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The Road to Agile: Continuous Innovation One GIG at a Time

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The Road to Agile: Continuous Innovation One GIG at a Time

Learn how one company uses hackathon days to inspire their employees, both devs and non-technical people, to innovate and add to the company's products.

· Agile Zone
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How do you make sure your product gets better over time? Better as in solving more and actual problems for your customers? At Tricentis we have a couple of strategies:

  • Our product management is in close touch with customers all the time.
  • We established multiple feedback loops throughout the organization and encourage support, consultants, sales, pre-sales, etc. to provide his or her feedback back on the product at any time.
  • We have an extensive Sprint review event (more about this in a later blog post).

But most importantly, everything circles around our core values, two of which are: customer focus and innovation.

Hackathons

Hackathons have become increasingly popular with the rise of the Silicon Valley tech scene. Hackathon, a portmanteau of "hack" and "marathon" are any sort of events where developers meet to spend a short amount of time intensively focusing on specific ideas. Twitter, for example, was conceived and implemented (as a prototype) at a hackathon. Enterprises also host internal hackathons - e.g. Facebook's most popular feature (the Like button) was introduced based on a hackathon idea.

Tricentis' engineering department hosts an annual innovation contest, similar to a hackathon - we call it the GIG - Great Ideas Gathering.

Great Ideas Gathering

The GIG takes place in late spring or early summer. Tricentis employees worldwide are allowed to participate in teams with up to three members. They are excused from their daily tasks and can focus on whatever innovation or idea they have. Teams are mixed - some consist of just engineers, some have non-technical members. They hack away a whole day (and night) to have two artifacts ready the next morning:

  • A short video (3 minutes max) pitching their idea.
  • A prototype implementation.

All employees worldwide are invited to vote for ideas - the top 10 get to pitch their ideas to a high profile jury (usually our CEO and two founders are part of the jury).

Innovation Drives Us

Besides being a lot of fun for the engineers, what do we get out of the GIGs? We crunched the numbers and it turns out that many of the features you enjoy in Tricentis Tosca were actually conceived during a GIG.

In total, close to 40% of all GIG ideas end up in the product in one way or another. Popular features like the Fuzzy Search, Distributed Execution, or Image Based Automation have been introduced based on GIG ideas.

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Topics:
agile ,hackathons ,company culture ,devlife ,product development

Published at DZone with permission of Michael Niessl, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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