And just like that—48 hours later—seven teams comprising various CJ engineers, account managers, customer support, publisher development, designers, and product managers planned, developed, iterated, and marketed seven different working prototypes.
The following day, the teams presented live demos to the entire company at CJ's 2015 Hackathon. It was an exercise in agility, innovation, and collaboration—and it was a huge success.
"I love hackathons!" said Lisa Hahnel, a product manager who served as a team's agile coach during the hackathon. "The opportunity to quickly build, test, and iterate fast—without the normal constraints of test-driven development—enables some really exciting ideas to be birthed and built upon"
Stemming from the iterative and highly flexible agile project management philosophy, hackathons spark creativity and ingenuity, especially within product and engineering. It was no different for VP of Engineering, Hal Arnold, and his team.
These events are often an opportunity to use some technology that is cutting-edge and allows us to exercise outside of our existing skillset. This hackathon gave us a chance to deliver something useful very quickly; this is the essence of 'working lean.'
With seven new tools created in just two days, "lean" might be an understatement.
It's this kind of fast-paced, solution-driven productivity that EVP of Customer Experience, Lisa Riolo, had in mind when she revived the hackathon concept.
In the nine years since our last hackathon, our engineering team has adopted the agile methodology. My intention was to introduce this approach to our business teams to help us move faster overall as a company.
Translated, CJ will continue to iterate on our business approach: find the problem, develop a plan, and build the solution to more quickly meet the growing needs of our customers.
While shifting an entire organization over to a tech-inspired agile approach might seem a little grandiose, CJ is already focusing resources to solving problems in a more efficient manner. As an added bonus, since the hackathon there's been a renewed sense of energy and community around the office. Members of different teams who have worked here for years and rarely interacted are now new friends; employees who've long wanted an opportunity to share new ideas have been heard; and did I mention seven new tools were created in just two days?!
The winning team's product was fast-tracked to full-scale development. I think we're on to something…