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February 23, 2021
215: Running a hack day

Have you ever thought about organising a hack or jam day at your work? A hack, hackathon or jam day is an event for you and your team to put aside your usual work and focus on one project or idea, an opportunity to make progress within a tight time constraint, like one day or a half a day. In this episode Femke shares her experience of running jam days at Uber as Charli prepares to run a hack day for her team at Convertkit.

key takeaways

Running a hack or jam day is a great way to thrash out new ideas, and to get different people from different teams working together. If work from the hack ends up in your team’s product that is great, but don’t let that be the end goal. Use a hack day to learn a new skill, work with a different team or to reignite your creativity.

Starting a hack at your company? Your ambition might be to go company wide but starting with your immediate team will allow you to run a day, get feedback and improve on the experience for the next time. Present the output of the hack day back to the wider team so that they get an idea of how it went, this will also drum up some excitement for the next event.

Small teams are nimble enough to use chat to communicate during virtual hacks. Alternatively you could ask your colleagues joining the hack to have their video call running throughout the allotted time for the event. As teams sign up prior to the event, ask them to nominate a leader that you can contact directly to find out how the team is getting on with the project.

Get your team hyped up a week in an advance so that they have time to think about what they want to work on and formulate their teams. Put the jam day as an event on everyone’s calendar so they know when it's coming up. Use prompts to help your team to come up with ideas. Provide each team with the same presentation template to use to present their work, this makes it really clear to everyone what the output at the end of the event should be. Send out a short feedback form to find out everyone’s thoughts on the hack.

show timestamps

01.02 – Check in

05.44 – The upcoming Convertkit hackathon

12.19  – Who can join

14.26 – Running a virtual hack

16.08 – What can go wrong

20.26 – Managing expectations

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