5 learnings from Hack Days in FINN

Vegard Storstad
Jun 28, 2018 · 6 min read
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In FINN.no, developers are used to great freedom and great responsibility. Solution design and technology choices are being made on a continuous basis in our teams, and we strive to have all new employees to submit code in production the first day on the job. FINN fills an important role the in Norwegian society, and our passionate developers are every week devoted to build the best marketplace.

Overall we’re in a pretty good shape, but as a large organization we often see our experts in different domains get dependencies to people, processes or products from different parts of our company. We wanted to see what happened if we made an effort to broaden our horizon and invited everyone to think of sane and insane ideas.

It worked (obviously, someone would say), so here are 5 learnings from Hack Days in FINN June 7th & 8th 2018 👾

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Find your Inner Excuse 🧠

Taking 150 highly skilled professionals out of daily operation is not necessarily trivial. But it is not very complicated either. In FINN we work to solve high-priority market problems at high speeds, and there is not always room for investigative de-tours with colleagues in other parts of our tech environment.

This became our excuse:

Costly? Possibly. Competence is expensive, but incompetence is more expensive. Besides, we have quite a good conscience since we are profitable (and then so). Did we mention fun?

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Create the Best Atmosphere 🤓

Hack Days (aka Hackathon, CodeDay, Innovation Days, Challenges) are not new, either in FINN or in other tech companies. In FINN we’ve previously run different concepts, and in recent years different teams have taken local initiatives with great success. The community feeling and the attention it gives internally, however, become much more powerful in a larger format, ergo 150 participants from our tech department.

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The purpose of the pitch on day 1 is to share with colleagues what you want to achieve, as well as to recruit team members. If you do not have your own idea, hang on to someone else’s plans and make them yours.

Demo on day 2 is about showing what you’ve achieved, sharing #fails or just telling what you’ve learned.

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Make it Something Special ✨

Okay, you have people. Management are encouraged to sit on their hands and everyone are excited. We took it up a notch:

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Measure the Effect 📈

In FINN we are awesome measuring and continuously improving. Understanding the impact of Hack Days, however, is not something that in the short term affects either traffic volume, loyalty of our users, revenue/profit, so the approach this time was (yet another) Google Form.

We asked 9 questions: Did you attend Hack Days?

67 colleagues answered, and we’ve already applied this feedback in our planning for the next version of Hack Days.

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Inspect and Adapt 👟

So what are the most obvious learnings?

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What we built? Here are the ideas that were presented in the demo on Friday, which exploded solidly on time due to high involvement and fast-paced entertainment factor:

Top 3 (unpretentious voting with acclamation)

…and some of the other stuff from the demo (not everything was presented on stage)

Tags: Hack Days

Originally published at tech.finn.no on June 28, 2018.

FINN.no Blog – Product, Design, and Tech

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