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Adage’s Annual Retreat Takes On Hackathon Format

For the past four years Adage Technologies has taken one day out of the year where it puts its pencils down (or rather laptops away) to focus on learning, team building, and overall performance.

Known as a ‘people-first organization,’ Adage values allowing its staff such opportunities, to grow both personally and professionally. This year, in the spirit of evolving and adapting, Adage decided to change the format of its annual retreat, APEX, and host a 24-hour hackathon. What’s a hackathon and why would we choose it as the format this year you ask, find out more below!

Adage Retreat - Hackathon 2018

What is a Hackathon?

A hackathon is an event where groups get together to intensely collaborate on a project with the goal of creating usable software in a short period of time. Hackathons allow teams to self-form and use technology to explore a creative idea or solve a problem. The culmination of the hackathon is a demonstration by each group, of what they were able to build in the time allotted.

Why do a Hackathon?

Adage felt this format would allow teams both the freedom to collaborate on a common goal, and staff the chance to work on crossing an idea off their wish list(s). Knowing that the intended outcome was a tool or software that would make their day-to-day lives easier and more efficient, Adage believed this was a wise investment of time and a great way for staff that don’t usually get to partner together, to have a day to do so.

When asked why she thought this was the right direction to go in this year, Talent Operations Manager Victoria Deresz said, “we wanted to give people the opportunity to be innovative, work on different types of things that they were excited about, and have the chance to learn and try something new. These [hackathons] have been successful at other organizations, and so we thought it would be a great format to try.”

Adage Retreat - Hackathon 2018

How did it work?

Staff were all asked to submit their ideas for projects a few weeks in advance of the hackathon. Ideas had to be beneficial to Adage, work within our tech stack, and be able to have an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to demo at the conclusion of the event, but was otherwise, open ended. In a twist on the usual requirements for a hackathon, we opened it up to non-coding projects as well.

Ideas were presented and teams were formed ahead of the official start of the event. Teams were self-forming based on individual interest, not necessarily department, team, or area of expertise, but were limited to a maximum of 6 people. Of the 22 ideas that were submitted, 14 had project teams that brought them to life.

Starting at 4pm on Thursday, teams were given 24 hours to work on their project. The goal was to have a day void of distractions, so all regular work and meetings were put on hold. There was a wide variety of projects that were developed, from efficiency tools like a QA Reporting Slack tool, process improvements like a JIRA starter board, internal projects like the Adage portfolio which cataloged our various development and design work, and projects that would benefit our clients like a PowerBI dashboard and a Watch & Listen Module. We even had an integration of software and hardware with a physical button for Octopus deployment. At the end of the 24 hours, each team presented their “product” so that the entire company could learn about what each team was able to create.

Check out the video recap!

AdageTech APEX Hackathon 2018


Though you’ll want to stay tuned to see how these projects continue to develop, Adage already considers its first hackathon a success. Based on employee feedback, 95% said the event was engaging and informative, and 95% also said it was a productive use of time spent away from regular work. What we’ve heard most frequently from employees was how much they enjoyed getting to work with others outside of their usual teams, and how much they want to do more hackathons.

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