“Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune”.
Well let’s face it: we always tend to learn more when we’re thoroughly involved in a task rather than when we are given a lecture on it by a third person. For example, I could either give you lecture after lecture on how to make a sandwich, or I could drop you into a kitchen and say “It’s all yours. Make me a sandwich.” In an age when the internet can give us information about anything and everything under the sun, when learning about the surface of Pluto has become easier than finding your lost bike keys, it should not be too difficult to make your first sandwich, or your first dashboard for that matter. This is the idea that had given birth to the concept of ‘Hackathon’ in TEG Analytics.
The Casus belli:
The plan is to encourage self-learning and competition, while another benefit is that it initiates inter-team communication and knowledge sharing, besides providing a great opportunity to the participants to showcase their talent in front of the biggest brains of the company. That way, the company is also able to identify its employees’ talents and weaknesses. Needless to say, you end up learning a lot in the entire process. So yes, it is a win-win situation for all!
It is important to mention here that hackathons in TEG are not like the regular hackathons as per the dictionary definition of the word. It’s actually even better! It’s not limited to coding and logical thinking skills of the person alone, but involves data visualization and business understanding.
How to Train Your Dragon?
I mean… employees.
Well let me give you a brief idea about how hackathons are conducted here and how they support the concept of self-learning. First, the organisers make sure that all the employees have had at least one official training on the basics of the particular skill that they are going to be tested on. Then, they are divided into teams of two. These teams are built in such a way, that the most skilled person is partnered with a lesser skilled person and so on. The organisers then provide them with a common business problem that needs to be solved using a certain soft skill and presented before a panel of judges within a specified time frame, which is generally 15-20 days. The business problem is created in a way that gives the participants the feel of a real-life client handling process. They can Google as much as they need to and learn all about the problem or the tool, besides taking help from the organisers to clear their doubts. To motivate the participants further, incentives in the form of monetary benefits are provided.
The Battles of Tableau and Excel:
The first ever such competition held in TEG Analytics was Tableau hackathon. The second was Excel hackathon which was concluded recently. In both the events, the enthusiasm of the participants was extraordinary and the competition tough. Here, it is worth mentioning that the second hackathon witnessed more than twice the number of participants as the first. The competitive spirit among the teams was incredible, with each team leaving no stone unturned to prove they are better than all others. A week before the final day, one could find the participants spending late nights in office and even working on weekends to make sure they have used every last fragment of grey matter available to make their dashboards absolutely perfect. One the day of the presentation, their morale was sky-high and the passion was almost contagious, as the teams, armed with their codes, calculations and charts battled for the title of the ‘Best Dashboard’.
And the Victor is..?
Everybody! Because everybody wins. To conclude, I can say that conducting such events within the organization is a brilliant idea to encourage learning, team-spirit, healthy competition and improvement of one’s own soft skills. You could say it’s like pushing a bird off a tree and leaving it with two options: learning to fly or preparing to fall. And at the end of it, whether you fly or fall, you definitely learn the use of your wings and will probably be confident enough to flap them the next time you have to save yourself.
Data Analyst, TEG Analytics