Winning Hack Weeks

Photo: Kathleen Vignos presenting to Jack Dorsey, Twitter Hackweek 2016

I love hack weeks. I feed on the energy, the buzz, and the creativity during the week and for months after. I thrive on meeting new people from across the company and collaborating together in new ways. And every once in a while, I’m lucky enough to be on a winning team!

March 3, 2016 (Condé Nast/WIRED):

The company-wide hackathon was called “Built While Flying,” so keeping in theme, we called it Project Soar: an automated SEO tool to analyze and optimize search engine keyword selection across all articles for Condé Nast brands including WIRED, the New Yorker, Vogue, Bon Appetit, and more. Our team had engineers, SEO experts, product, design, and sales. We won first place out of 23 teams and over 300 participants and took hope champagne and prizefighter belts. Best of all, our project was green lit and the feature launched as part of our content management system later that same year. 

And now, five years later…

March 12, 2021 (Twitter):

The company-wide hack week was called “Simplify to Scale.” Our team’s focus: Promo Packet Redesign. Through many iterations, our promotion packet templates had helped remove bias and enable objective review across engineering leaders, but they were lengthy and hard to construct. We designed a promotion packet tool that builds artifacts over time to contribute to a promotion story, including mechanisms for anonymous committee review and voting. Our team included engineers, HR, learning and development, real estate and workplace, diversity and inclusion, technical program management, business analysts, and more. We were one of three “Tweep’s Choice Winners” out of dozens of teams. The company plans to build the tool.

The moral of the story: Well-designed hack weeks are invigorating and invite participation from people in roles across many functional roles that might rarely work together. Next time your company has a hack week, I highly recommend dropping what you’re doing and diving in. 

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