Life

Building a Culture: Hackathons

  Not long after I entered Facebook, a social networking service, I decided to have lunch with a group of engineers.
  As I got closer, I saw them having a heated debate. One of them came up with an idea for a new feature that he was sure would change the world, others were less convinced. “I can’t imagine myself using it in a million years,” countered one. That’s when someone chimed in: “Okay, why don’t you build this first and let us see?” “Yeah!” Another voice agreed, “We’ll talk about it next time at the ‘hackathon’ Go!”
  That’s when I learned that “hackathons” are a well-known company tradition. Its purpose is to bring people together and spend a few hours prototyping good ideas that come up. Whether alone or with several people, you can do whatever you think is good for the company.
  A Hackathon requires a lot of energy from the participants, and it often lasts into the wee hours of the morning, until you’re done beckoning colleagues over to see a live, running version of your idea developed.
  ”Hackathons” have spawned some well-known and successful chat, video, and more products. But more importantly, it’s a fun way to work, bringing people together to form Facebook’s first concrete values: “Be bold” and “Move fast.”
  Ritual is powerful. Aside from slogans or speeches, corporate rituals often refer to actions on which team members can focus and through which the bond is strengthened. Different rituals can be as unique, wacky, and fun as your team.
  I love learning about the different traditions that teams have created to live up to their values. Below are some examples.
  1. A personal feature at the start of the meeting (like “favorite childhood movie” or “best gift you got for Christmas”) so people can get to know their teammates better.
  2. Monthly “Learn to Draw/Sculpt/Craft” night, which can better show creativity and beginner’s mentality.
  3. A giant “Customer Love” teddy bear plush toy awarded to the person who helped the customer the most in the past month.
  4. An annual “Oscar” style awards ceremony, so that everyone can recognize the strengths of colleagues.
  5. “Failure of the Week”, where everyone shares their mistakes in a safe environment to encourage authenticity and continuous learning.
  One of the things that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been doing for more than a decade is holding an internal Q&A every Friday afternoon, where anyone at the company can ask him any question, and he will Answer honestly. These questions can be about the future direction of Facebook, Zuckerberg’s recent decisions, company policies, or even his personal views on recent news. Some of these questions can be very straightforward, such as: “X looks like a bad idea, so why are we doing it?”
  At a large company like Facebook, the CEO has thousands of things to juggle. However, Zuckerberg still insists on standing in front of everyone every week and answering any questions they have. Why is this? Because one of Facebook’s biggest values ​​is openness. If he doesn’t set an example, others won’t believe it matters.
  As a leader, building culture may not be at the top of your mind. You may dream of changing the world, or sketch out an overall strategy that will get you there, but success or failure is usually not the result of a few far-reaching decisions. Instead, how far you go will be determined by the millions of actions your team takes in the mundane everyday—how you treat each other; how you solve problems together; Willing to give up something.
  Pay attention to your words and deeds—the little things you say and do, and your actions for or against, that show what you care about and how you think a great team should work together.

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