Useless Hackathons

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Useless Hackathons

  • I would agree with the CIO.

    One company I worked at had a programme, sponsored by the CEO, to allow any employee to improve any pain point.

    The programme took 1 day a week for 6 weeks to provide training.

    • Problem identification - find the root cause not the symptom
    • Building a business case
    • Building a team
    • Analysing flow
    • Identifying stakeholders and sponsors.
    • Proof of value, Proof of concept
    • ...etc

    It wasn't just for IT.  One participant put shock sensors on pallets and demonstrated once and for all that when stuff "falls off the back of a lorry" it breaks.  That led to a change to the flooring of the company trucks.

    If you committed yourself to the programme then the company asked that you committed to delivering what you said you would deliver.  Before I left employees had shaved a 7 figure sum from operating costs.  I'd say the education alone was worth it for the employee.  I met with people I would not normally meet and it was a great relationship builder.  Word of mouth is a powerful thing.

    Obviously, not everything can be a success. In some cases you learned that when you started to put together the business case.

    I believe that the programme is one of the best education pieces I have had in my career

     

  • This was removed by the editor as SPAM

  • I've been in a hackathon and got a lot out of it. I participated because it was an opportunity to learn a new skill. However, I've not continued with it, because the skill I learned is one that my work will not allow.

    Quoting from your editorial:

    At the same time, it can be easy for an entire development department to stagnate because writing software to close out tickets someone else has submitted can reduce incentives to build great software.

    AMEN!!!

    Rod

  • My basic trouble with hackathons in a company is... why do they actually need one to begin with?  It seems like that's an admission that they don't embrace innovation during the rest of the year.

    I also agree that the stuff created in such a one day event is going to be pretty limited in scope and value.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • I'd just like to point out that some of the greatest inventions in IT history were started by a couple of people - who were supposed to be working on something else. Maybe it's the officially sponsored and departmentally planned hackathons that are prone to being useless.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • The more structured things are, the less likely they are to innovate, and often, we are tightly structured with planned work in our daily activities. Changing things up helps us change the way we think.

    However, when completely unstructured, we find lots of people waste IT time, so I think having some way to focus creative energy is good.

    At Redgate, a few weeks before we have a hackathon week, people propose ideas. Others vote, and there is some way to keep the ideas either in line with something research oriented, or completely charity focused where we build something for an org that needs it. People can join teams if they feel creative, or do their normal work.

    There is an energy and excitement, and sometimes when someone proposes an idea, it invigorates thoughts in others. The greatest inventions often come from collaboration or someone working on a problem that someone else noticed.

    I think a planned hackathon works, but it needs some boundaries, and it needs a way to continue afterwards if there is merit.

     

    I also like the idea of anyone proposing this at any time, rather than just once or twice a year.

  • I have a general issue with the idea that innovation comes from sitting people down cracking a whip and asking them to innovate.  Maybe some people can work like that but most of my actual useful innovation comes from solving real world problems as they show up, not by being given an arbitrary problem and told to write code.

  • Jeff Moden wrote:

    My basic trouble with hackathons in a company is... why do they actually need one to begin with?  It seems like that's an admission that they don't embrace innovation during the rest of the year.

    I also agree that the stuff created in such a one day event is going to be pretty limited in scope and value.

    I hear what you're saying, but I must respectfully disagree. Working in state government, innovation is discouraged. I've tried introducing several innovative approaches, but nothing doing. We're still working with .NET 4.5.2 which came out with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. I've tried so many times to get us to adopt newer .NET frameworks, because of the improved productivity for developers, but they won't hear of it. And as often happens, they won't say why they won't hear of it. Then there's the passive-aggressive resistance to Agile. I could go on; my point is we really could use something like a hackathon to encourage innovation and creativity. I'm a senior software developer. The "senior" has nothing to do with being creativity. It's only that I've been doing this longer than a junior and can accomplish more by following a prescribed pattern set by others. The same holds for senior DBAs. I know they use tools from both Redgate and Idera, but I don't think they have created a database project in Visual Studio. Granted using Visual Studio isn't something many DBAs are likely to do, however I doubt they use Azure Data Studio and I know that none of the SQL code they've written is in any VCS. The "real" creativity comes from about two levels higher than me. And at that level they're no longer acquainted with what people at my level are dealing with. I long, so much, to do innovative and creative software development, process solving and the like.

    Rod

  • ZZartin wrote:

    I have a general issue with the idea that innovation comes from sitting people down cracking a whip and asking them to innovate.  Maybe some people can work like that but most of my actual useful innovation comes from solving real world problems as they show up, not by being given an arbitrary problem and told to write code.

    Oh boy, you've said a lot there. I haven't the experience of going to a hackathon that's poorly run, to have someone crack that whip and demand innovation. But what I have seen recently is what a crisis strikes (COVID anyone) then the demand to get things done fast come. But for years your workforce has been strongly discouraged away from being innovative or creative.

    One of my favorite TV shows is Doctor Who. Over the last few years one story line, from Tom Baker's time, has come to mean so much to me. It's in the E-Space Trilogy series. The one that I'm thinking about is called "State of Decay". There are these vampires who rule absolutely on a planet with the remnants of humans that arrived in a spacecraft many years prior. The vampires "protect" the humans from this silly thing they call, "The Wasting". It doesn't matter what that means, it's irrelevant and bogus anyway. The point is the vampires have bred the humans for so long that the humans have lost the ability to learn, do anything, etc. The leader of the vampires, speaking to the other vampires, says something like, "We've bred stupidity and dullness into them". I see parallels. After who knows how long, several people I know are no longer interested in doing anything, other than what they're told. And if they're not told what to do, then they'll wait until someone else comes along to tell them.

    I am not saying my coworkers are stupid, as that villain in State of Decay said. I work with intelligent people. But creativity and innovation are, like a muscle. It must be exercised, or it atrophies.

    Rod

  • Doctor Who 2 wrote:

    Jeff Moden wrote:

    My basic trouble with hackathons in a company is... why do they actually need one to begin with?  It seems like that's an admission that they don't embrace innovation during the rest of the year.

    I also agree that the stuff created in such a one day event is going to be pretty limited in scope and value.

    I hear what you're saying, but I must respectfully disagree. Working in state government, innovation is discouraged. I've tried introducing several innovative approaches, but nothing doing. We're still working with .NET 4.5.2 which came out with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. I've tried so many times to get us to adopt newer .NET frameworks, because of the improved productivity for developers, but they won't hear of it. And as often happens, they won't say why they won't hear of it. Then there's the passive-aggressive resistance to Agile. I could go on; my point is we really could use something like a hackathon to encourage innovation and creativity. I'm a senior software developer. The "senior" has nothing to do with being creativity. It's only that I've been doing this longer than a junior and can accomplish more by following a prescribed pattern set by others. The same holds for senior DBAs. I know they use tools from both Redgate and Idera, but I don't think they have created a database project in Visual Studio. Granted using Visual Studio isn't something many DBAs are likely to do, however I doubt they use Azure Data Studio and I know that none of the SQL code they've written is in any VCS. The "real" creativity comes from about two levels higher than me. And at that level they're no longer acquainted with what people at my level are dealing with. I long, so much, to do innovative and creative software development, process solving and the like.

    Heh... we're actually agreeing with each other.  My take is that if you need a hackathon, then your company is probably suppressing innovation the rest of the time.  You're saying, yep... you work for one of those and need a hackathon.

    If that's the way you're forced to operate, then perhaps the ideas coming out of that one day won't be so limited in scope... you'll have thought about it most of the rest of the year and be totally ready for the hackathon if and when it comes.

    😀

     

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Doctor Who 2 wrote:

    ZZartin wrote:

    I have a general issue with the idea that innovation comes from sitting people down cracking a whip and asking them to innovate.  Maybe some people can work like that but most of my actual useful innovation comes from solving real world problems as they show up, not by being given an arbitrary problem and told to write code.

    Oh boy, you've said a lot there. I haven't the experience of going to a hackathon that's poorly run, to have someone crack that whip and demand innovation. But what I have seen recently is what a crisis strikes (COVID anyone) then the demand to get things done fast come. But for years your workforce has been strongly discouraged away from being innovative or creative.

    One of my favorite TV shows is Doctor Who. Over the last few years one story line, from Tom Baker's time, has come to mean so much to me. It's in the E-Space Trilogy series. The one that I'm thinking about is called "State of Decay". There are these vampires who rule absolutely on a planet with the remnants of humans that arrived in a spacecraft many years prior. The vampires "protect" the humans from this silly thing they call, "The Wasting". It doesn't matter what that means, it's irrelevant and bogus anyway. The point is the vampires have bred the humans for so long that the humans have lost the ability to learn, do anything, etc. The leader of the vampires, speaking to the other vampires, says something like, "We've bred stupidity and dullness into them". I see parallels. After who knows how long, several people I know are no longer interested in doing anything, other than what they're told. And if they're not told what to do, then they'll wait until someone else comes along to tell them.

    I am not saying my coworkers are stupid, as that villain in State of Decay said. I work with intelligent people. But creativity and innovation are, like a muscle. It must be exercised, or it atrophies.

    That's a fairly common theme in science fiction.  The Morlocks did similar to the Eloi in the Time Machine by H.G. Wells.  The was a race of "headless humans" on Mars in volume 5 of John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  IIRC, the "Atlantis" series had a race of vampires that was just coming out of a long hibernation and laying pretty good waste to the less intelligent humans.  And, we have interesting parallels in real life that I won't delve much into.  I'm afraid that it's become a common theme in sci-fi because it is such a common theme in real life.  Think not?  One example led to the fairly common saying of "Drank the (purple) Kool-Aid".

    Heh... and an interesting parallel in the world of SQL Server comes under the general heading of "Best Practices". 😀 😀 😀

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Jeff Moden wrote:

    Doctor Who 2 wrote:

    Jeff Moden wrote:

    My basic trouble with hackathons in a company is... why do they actually need one to begin with?  It seems like that's an admission that they don't embrace innovation during the rest of the year.

    I also agree that the stuff created in such a one day event is going to be pretty limited in scope and value.

    I hear what you're saying, but I must respectfully disagree. Working in state government, innovation is discouraged. I've tried introducing several innovative approaches, but nothing doing. We're still working with .NET 4.5.2 which came out with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. I've tried so many times to get us to adopt newer .NET frameworks, because of the improved productivity for developers, but they won't hear of it. And as often happens, they won't say why they won't hear of it. Then there's the passive-aggressive resistance to Agile. I could go on; my point is we really could use something like a hackathon to encourage innovation and creativity. I'm a senior software developer. The "senior" has nothing to do with being creativity. It's only that I've been doing this longer than a junior and can accomplish more by following a prescribed pattern set by others. The same holds for senior DBAs. I know they use tools from both Redgate and Idera, but I don't think they have created a database project in Visual Studio. Granted using Visual Studio isn't something many DBAs are likely to do, however I doubt they use Azure Data Studio and I know that none of the SQL code they've written is in any VCS. The "real" creativity comes from about two levels higher than me. And at that level they're no longer acquainted with what people at my level are dealing with. I long, so much, to do innovative and creative software development, process solving and the like.

    Heh... we're actually agreeing with each other.  My take is that if you need a hackathon, then your company is probably suppressing innovation the rest of the time.  You're saying, yep... you work for one of those and need a hackathon.

    If that's the way you're forced to operate, then perhaps the ideas coming out of that one day won't be so limited in scope... you'll have thought about it most of the rest of the year and be totally ready for the hackathon if and when it comes.

    😀

    And be careful not to conflate using the latest flavor of the month tech with innovation, the two are not synonymous.  Whatever problems are hindering innovation on your current tech stack won't just go away if you suddenly switched to open source, no sql big data with a cloud based ai decision engine.  Indeed chasing the current must have tech can easily become a hindrance to innovation in and of itself.

  • ZZartin wrote:

    Jeff Moden wrote:

    Doctor Who 2 wrote:

    Jeff Moden wrote:

    My basic trouble with hackathons in a company is... why do they actually need one to begin with?  It seems like that's an admission that they don't embrace innovation during the rest of the year.

    I also agree that the stuff created in such a one day event is going to be pretty limited in scope and value.

    I hear what you're saying, but I must respectfully disagree. Working in state government, innovation is discouraged. I've tried introducing several innovative approaches, but nothing doing. We're still working with .NET 4.5.2 which came out with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. I've tried so many times to get us to adopt newer .NET frameworks, because of the improved productivity for developers, but they won't hear of it. And as often happens, they won't say why they won't hear of it. Then there's the passive-aggressive resistance to Agile. I could go on; my point is we really could use something like a hackathon to encourage innovation and creativity. I'm a senior software developer. The "senior" has nothing to do with being creativity. It's only that I've been doing this longer than a junior and can accomplish more by following a prescribed pattern set by others. The same holds for senior DBAs. I know they use tools from both Redgate and Idera, but I don't think they have created a database project in Visual Studio. Granted using Visual Studio isn't something many DBAs are likely to do, however I doubt they use Azure Data Studio and I know that none of the SQL code they've written is in any VCS. The "real" creativity comes from about two levels higher than me. And at that level they're no longer acquainted with what people at my level are dealing with. I long, so much, to do innovative and creative software development, process solving and the like.

    Heh... we're actually agreeing with each other.  My take is that if you need a hackathon, then your company is probably suppressing innovation the rest of the time.  You're saying, yep... you work for one of those and need a hackathon.

    If that's the way you're forced to operate, then perhaps the ideas coming out of that one day won't be so limited in scope... you'll have thought about it most of the rest of the year and be totally ready for the hackathon if and when it comes.

    😀

    And be careful not to conflate using the latest flavor of the month tech with innovation, the two are not synonymous.  Whatever problems are hindering innovation on your current tech stack won't just go away if you suddenly switched to open source, no sql big data with a cloud based ai decision engine.  Indeed chasing the current must have tech can easily become a hindrance to innovation in and of itself.

     

    Heh... "New Shiny Object/Keep Up with the Jones" syndrome.  Preach it Brother, preach IT! 😀 +1000

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • The Jones are doing pretty good, just to be clear.

    I find lots of companies that want to move to DevOps get into the shiny ball syndrome. Google/Spotify/et al did it, so we should. This instead of thinking of flow, feedback, and learning from what works for you.

     

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