You may know that Gmail was born in Google’s headquarters after a Ship-It Day. Also widely publicised is each Google engineer’s 20% quota of playtime – simply put, the idea is that each engineer gets to spend 20% of their time working on non-core projects, which might lead to future gains for Google. That’s why we, as a company, are so curious each time about the hackathons which happen right here at STYLIGHT HQ. ShipIt Day at STYLIGHT, which took place last week, means a whole 24 hours wherein all employees of STYLIGHT can (in teams) work around an idea to deliver a product that works.
At least one month before the set date for the Ship-It Day, employees start to collect ideas for the 24 hour hackathon next to the coffee machine: final efforts of the projects are made by those participating, but Ship-It Day feels like an overall company project!
This year we had several ideas to work on. Alberto, our Interaction Designer joining the hackathon for the first time, said: “As a designer at STYLIGHT I was looking for something I could be part of like a service or a product in need of an interface, as well as including a user process. Amongst all the ideas casually pinned on the board next to the coffee machine, I found something I really wanted to work on: a guestlist tool. At STYLIGHT we have many events during the year, so in order to make guest management as simple as possible we looked into building a tool for our Event Manager, Aki.”
A great team is a team with many differents skills: the stakeholder for the Guestlist App for example was Aki (Event Manager), yet working on it were also Dimi (Search Engineer), Daniel (Backend Developer), Lorenz (Software Engineer) and Alberto. The blend of the different backgrounds of each member proved to be a great mix of Java, database and frontend skills. As an agile company we are used to working in a cross-functional team, so even if this was the first time worked with each other, no problems surfaced during the 24 hours working to achieve the different goals.
After our Agile Coach Torsten gave the starting signal, Alberto and his team “began by understanding the problems Aki was facing, collected some initial ideas, and then began coding our tool. Dimi tackled the database structure with Lorenz and Daniel and I tackled the iPad app. Utilizing the full 24 hours, we got to 2pm the next day with everything ‘ready to ship’.”
Other ideas generated included that of Alee (Junior UX Researcher) and Adrian (Android Developer) who designed features of our app that let the user ask differents questions about the best outfit to wear on a specific day. Maria (Junior Android Developer), Julie (Junior Software Developer), and Martin (Backend Developer) shipped a tool (coded with Ruby) to randomly pick up employees for our weekly lunch roulette – a chance to have lunch once a week with three other colleagues, chosen at random, and paid for by STYLIGHT. Matze (Developer) and Peter (Lead Designer Website, Content & Branding) shipped an iPhone app that let you know know which server is running an A/B test.
The tool provided by Alberto and his team for example, had a great reaction from the PR and Event team and even if it was just the minimum viable product (MVP). Just as the Lunch Roulette tool being in it´s MVP stage, it’s something that can already help the company. Further learnings from the Ship-It Day were that we are able to work with people we’ve never worked with before. And as Alee nicely concluded: “Ship it day is a really cool thing we do here at STYLIGHT. I think we have an incredibly talented group of designers and engineers, and the amount of amazing ideas and real working software we came up with in 24 hours was super impressive.
Next Ship-It Day comes up in August: don’t miss it!
| By Emily Ekong|