I’ve long been a supporter of facilitating creativity and innovation within the workplace in Tech. Shortly after coming on as Groupon’s CTO, I created our own internal hackathon that occurs every six months and is open to our development offices across the globe…we call it GEEKon. GEEKon celebrates technology at Groupon by giving our teams the chance to innovate bottoms-up and unleash their creativity and passion for collaboration on new and useful solutions for the company. GEEKon lasts for 5 days; 4 days of hacking with a final day of presentations.
Here are 4 reasons why GEEkon rocks at Groupon:
1. Collaboration – GEEKon gives employees the opportunity to work with new people and form new relationships. During the week of GEEKon, teams assimilate from across different areas of the company. People in roles that might never interact normally are thrown together and start building with one another. Not only does this give people a chance to make new friends but gives them a broader view of our company and their connection to the individuals within it.
2. Good Times – We take the FUN part of GEEKon seriously. Whether it is late night catered dinners, passionate external speakers or rocking out to energetic tunes (each Geekon is musically themed), we all get into the spirit. Employees come to understand that it’s important to work hard at Groupon but it is also vital that they enjoy themselves along the way.
3. Encourage Outside the Box Thinking – It is easy to get lost in the day to day. GEEKon gives employees the chance to step outside of their normal routine and think in a fresh way about how to solve problems. This results in good things for Groupon but also (hopefully) for the employees, personally.
4. Real Results! – We run GEEKon every six months so employees can have fun, meet new folks and get creative but we also have real products that come out of it. People present projects that improve internal pain points, solve issues that bother them or propose brand new external facing products. We commit to following through on the winning projects, getting the business ideas funded through Groupon Labs or connecting the teams to the right product and engineering people to make their prototype a reality.
This past GEEKon we had more than 100 projects worked on across 8 offices in 5 countries and the projects were fantastic. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next one, coming in February 2016!