On the 28th of March, armed with hot cross buns and lots of coffee, all 100 people in our Sydney and Melbourne offices – engineers, BAs, UX, PMs, marketing, finance, HR, sales engagement, GMs, BDMs, and our directors – spent the whole day hacking on their great ideas.
At DiUS, we place an emphasis on technology investigation and idea generation and are constantly on the lookout for ways to encourage curiosity, investigation, and creativity. The DiUS Hack Day was set up as another way to help us build knowledge through risk-free exploration and experimentation, as well as foster the spirit of open-source contribution and teamwork.
Our very first Hack Day in October 2013 was a huge success, a lot of fun and generated some great ideas. So, we decided to go ahead and have another one, but this time – we would focus on Creating Shared Value : hacks that benefit our community and DiUS at the same time.
Hacking to Create Shared Value (CSV)
For companies like DiUS that want to help society make substantive progress, Creating Shared Value (CSV) is a new way of thinking that goes beyond ‘giving back’ and ‘being responsible’. It’s about creating sustainable improvement and commercial value at the same time – a more powerful concept than the traditional approach of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which tends to be more about donating back a portion of profits and/or avoiding damaging business practices.
CSV as a concept originated in a seminal article in the Harvard Business Review by corporate strategy legend Michael Porter and fellow luminary Mark Kramer. It describes the notion that the competitiveness of a company can be enhanced while also advancing the economic and social conditions in which that company operates. Improving value in one area gives rise to opportunities in the others.
With the new CSV theme in mind, our User Experience team made up of Amir Ansari, Sol Pandiella-McLeod and Leanne Tilmanis conducted dedicated DiUS Hack Ideation Sessions ahead of the Hack Day. This allowed us to broaden our vision and uncover over 120 community problems that we could potentially tackle on the day.
At the end of our Hack Day, rather than having a typical showcase, we adopted the idea of a marketplace. Everybody was given three precious Easter eggs to use for voting. Each team set up a demonstration of their achievements and everybody was free to roam, ask questions and see the other team’s demonstration. To vote, individuals placed their Easter egg in a team’s bucket.
We had two award categories in each city; the people’s choice and the director’s choice.
People’s Choice – as voted by the people
Sydney – Pimp My Retro
Nearly all the retros that this team had attended in their careers have been just post-it notes on a white-board, with a photo taken at the end and a couple of actions loosely noted. Retrospectives aren’t nerdy enough. This team wanted to bring some technology into the mix. They created an online and collaborative solution for the tech and business community to use to hold, and record the results of, project retrospectives.
Melbourne – GetSocial
DiUS is now 10 years old, so we are a little bigger than we used to be. There are more people, more clients, more locations. Consultants are spread across Melbourne and Sydney and don’t always know that there are colleagues on site close to them. This solution was designed to help bridge the geographical gap so any project teams – not just ours – can get together and bond over coffee.
Director’s Choice – as voted by Joe Losinno and Clency Coutet
Sydney – Waste Not
Have you ever wondered what happens to all the leftover bread that your local bread shop ends up with at the end of the day? Or what happens to the overstock items that retailers are left with at the end of sales? The Waste Not team worked together to find a way to connect retailers in our local community with charities, in order to distribute their ‘leftovers’ and avoid waste.
Melbourne – Physiognomy
This project aimed to work on ways of automating the understanding of human behaviour through facial sentiment detection and classification. What we learnt from our day of hacking can be built upon by anyone interesting in applying this technology to their solution. For example, this could be relevant to applications within sectors such as retail, healthcare, automotive, as well as building devices to monitor drivers for tiredness, or even the ability for people with Asperger Disorder to understand someone’s body language.
Some more information
Here’s are specific hack projects that have been written up in detail by DiUS team members on their personal blogs. And don’t forget, all our hacks are open source so you can download them from GitHub.
This hack in Sydney aimed to create an application that tackled the issue of online medical records. It’s aim was to consolidate a person’s health background so that it could quickly and easily be passed to others in the event of an emergency. Given the 8 hour time-frame, they decided to focus on building a wearable QR code that uniquely identified a person’s medical information.
Remote working has a lot of potential advantages for businesses and employees. It can reduce commuting (cost, time, environmental impact) and has the potential to increase the pool of people for an organisation or a project. If we can strike an affordable and winning formula, it is an idea that has the potential to scale and be used by community groups for interaction and to help break down borders.
Plenty of folks are already working remotely however, the trade off is communication doesn’t always flow as easily. We lose a certain amount of intimacy with our co-workers and the available technologies often present constraints (e.g. need to have an equipped meeting room available) or headaches (getting a Hangout initiated is rarely as easy as it should be). This hack in Melbourne aimed to introduce elements that utilise open hardware (e.g. Raspberry Pi) to make communication even better and more fluid.