19 Aug

TattsHack, 24hr Innovation Hackathon

Our first “Hackathon”, TattsHack, is done and dusted, and what an experience. From the original idea through to the event it was only a few short weeks, and of that we were only actively working on it for 15 business days.

In that time we went from a blank canvas to forming teams of volunteers to look after communications, rules, facilities and most importantly food! We designed logos, stickers, posters and had t-shirts printed. Given that it was the first event of this type it was decided to keep it to an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)… I think we failed there – it wasn’t minimal by any stretch of the imagination. Even though all our volunteers and participants had their normal workloads to take care of, they threw themselves at the task with an enthusiasm that is rare to see. It was a clear sign that the tide of cultural change really is happening at Tatts.

My expectations of the event were exceeded many times over, and although I was quite nervous right up until the point when teams started pouring into the WOW room for the launch. The atmosphere at this point was amazing, there was a lot of excitement and positive energy in the room and the teams were eager to get started.

One of my personal highlights was being able to get Live Stream working so that people outside Albion could feel like they were part of the event. This was a technical challenge because we didn’t want to use public streaming services due to the risk of external parties gaining access to our video feed. Challenge accepted, and with a couple of days work I had a solution for a live stream – two of the team then enhanced that to build a video-only live stream between the main room and training rooms. Now teams could see into the other room, and lots of fun was had communicating between the rooms with gestures, cards and dance moves.

Throughout the event the ten teams worked in different ways.  Some teams were very quietly discussing their approach and then working individually on their piece of the puzzle.  While other teams were using all their agility training and doing hourly stand-ups and adjusting their approach constantly.

During the evening on Thursday a couple of advisors came to visit from Finance, Legal and Procurement and they walked around giving the teams advice and encouragement for their pitches.  Our agility coaches were also on hand throughout the event to offer guidance to the teams and I saw team members giving a hand to competing teams with specific things like video editing and tech support.

When it came to the time for pitches the main room and car park area was full with people who came to watch the pitches and enjoy a beer and bite to eat. After only 24hrs of work, our ten teams weren’t going to make our judges decision an easy one. In the end there could only be one winner though, and that prestigious title went to the lotteries terminal replacement team. Their pitch was a solution to replacing our fleet of handheld terminals with commodity tablet hardware. I hope that the business will be able to see the value in this idea and will be able to gain value form the prototype produced during the event.

Speaking with people around the office over the following week there was a really good buzz about TattsHack and people are looking forward to the next innovation event. Hopefully next time around we’ll have a bigger venue available so that more people can participate, and hopefully we can find some more volunteers so that we can all participate too!