Innovation Between Deadlines

Over the last month, we at CashPositive have been more occupied than ever. Juggling between customer interactions, user interviews, product development, hiring, and much more, it has become harder to take time out even for personal chores.

Yes. That’s some intense work underway ;)

With customer go-lives planned for upcoming months, things have been clearer than ever with respect to our immediate product goals. And our small but motivated team is leaving no stone unturned to achieve that.

While that’s definitely an exciting proposition (especially for an early stage start-up like us) , it also means that there is hardly any time left for other activities. From my past experiences, i know that while such focused environments might translate into a successful immediate delivery, they tend to have adverse implications with respect to product vision.

Trying to find this balance between delivery deadlines & our long term product goals, we decided to conduct an internal team hackathon ( a.k.a. CashPositive innovation breakout) . Let me talk about it in 3 short segments.

1. Getting together

Ours is a distributed tech team working out of Delhi & Bangalore along with interns from colleges across India. Working in a remote environment since many months, we have been able to find a good synergy among us ; it hardly feels that we are not in the same room.

Yes. That’s how remote teams take a selfie ;)

With this hackathon, we wanted to bring the team together and work co-located as much as possible. Hence we decided to conduct it over a weekend so that our remote interns could travel to Delhi and be a part of it. Those who were unable to join in person were part of this 30 hour hack remotely. Thanks to Slack & .

2. Building it up

To make things interesting & have a sense of competition, we decided to split the team into 2 with distinct problem statements; challenges that none of us had worked on before. Though new and challenging, they had a potential of integrating into our existing solution and delivering an additional value add for customers.

Work Mode: On.

After the initial overview & a broad understanding of end objectives, the teams set out on their explorations. What transpired were some intense hours filled with animated discussions, constant slack chatter, multiple calls, brainstorming and of-course coding.

The collaboration, teamwork and frequency of notifications from code repository & communication channels was pretty stratospheric during all of it.

3. The Result : What did we really achieve ?

By the end of 30 hours, we had working prototypes of 2 features that we had initially envisioned for early next year. We now plan to complete their integration by end of next month & have them as part of our product offerings.

A much bigger outcome was on the team building side. I felt this hackathon was a lot more effective team building exercise for our tech team than the usual corporate outbound.

Showcase the mini products during final presentation.

Looking at the success of this hackathon (and the previous hackathon we participated in) , it feels like such events are going to become an integral part of our team culture. An innovation breakout squeezed in-between the deadlines.

What about you? How do you keep the innovation culture alive in your team?


This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.