The role of hackathons in fostering collaboration and creativity

In the fast-paced world of digital innovation, a beacon of creative energy shines brighter than ever — the hackathon. Imagine a week when colleagues from around the globe unite to enhance their skills, brainstorm with real markers and sticky notes, and tackle challenges spanning marketing, legal, engineering, and more.

This is Tyk’s grand hackathon, where diversity thrives, ideas flow, and everyone plays a crucial role in improving the organisation. Join us through this inspiring event and discover the boundless creativity that emerges when we unite to pursue innovation.

In my last blog, I discussed preparing emotionally for in-person meetings with remote colleagues. Our annual retreat in September brings our global team together for a special week. We unite people from diverse backgrounds with a shared goal: enhancing skills and collaborating for a positive impact. It’s a time for hands-on workshops, leaving behind virtual whiteboards and digital tools (bye-bye Miro, Figma and VS Code), and embracing markers, sticky notes, and discussion groups.

Tyk’s grand hackathon

While every moment of the week was filled with learning and inspiration, one event stood out as my absolute favourite — Tyk’s grand hackathon.

Tyk’s hackathon was not your typical coding-only event. It was an inclusive gathering where almost everyone at Tyk joined in, regardless of their role — whether from marketing, legal, engineering, or delivery. It embodied the idea that everyone has a place in Tyk’s quest for improvement. This was a time for us to come together, roll up our sleeves, and work in a focused mode to tackle various topics and challenges.

The hackathon offered a platform for diverse talents to shine. Participants wrote code, crafted presentations, improved UX, planned future research, and focused on designing new pages for our website. It was a testament to the inclusive nature of Tyk’s hackathon, where people with a wide range of skills and expertise could contribute meaningfully.

The event was organised with precision and care. The hackathon leaders curated a list of problems and tasks that needed our collective attention. In some cases, the tasks were the next steps following a workshop that had taken place earlier in the retreat; in others, they were a known issue we hadn’t previously had the chance to focus on. Halfway through the session, the group leaders provided updates, and at the end, they summarised our progress.

These updates were a source of inspiration, allowing everyone to learn from each other’s experiences and accomplishments.

In my journey during the hackathon, I had the privilege of working on several projects with a diverse set of people, each of whom brought their expertise and perspective to the table. In the first 15 minutes, I teamed up with an R&D researcher to draft content for a documentation page aimed at helping users with recommended deployment strategies.

The power of collaborative thinking 

One of the powers of the hackathon was how efficiently we worked together, as it took us just fifteen minutes of focused effort to think of a topic for a blog post and then outline its core content. This rapid progress underscored the power of collaborative thinking when coming together with a shared goal and a deadline 😉.

For the next task, I was asked to demo to someone from our QA team to showcase the ease of contributing to our documentation. In just under an hour, we covered the best way to update docs on the Github repo via the browser, the docs team policies and requirements for PRs, creating PRs, how to run Hugo locally, and when you need to do it. It was incredible to witness his quick grasp of the concepts (as I hoped, our contribution guide reduces barriers rather than adding more).

I hope he will pass on this knowledge, further strengthening our documentation efforts.

The excitement didn’t end there. In the final leg of the hackathon, I joined forces with our delivery team to embark on a journey to design a process for making changes in our APIs. We want to streamline our software development lifecycle (SDLC) by prioritising documentation- and API-first approaches. This collaborative effort sparked numerous ideas and discussions and a new process’s first draft.

The tasks’ dynamism and variety showcased the participants’ versatility and Tyk’s commitment to fostering collaboration across disciplines.

Driving positive change and adding value

Tyk’s hackathon was not just a moment of creative, innovative, and collaborative energy in the digital age; it reflected Tyk’s culture and commitment to continuous improvement. It demonstrated that, whether you’re writing code or crafting a presentation, everyone has a role in driving positive change and adding value. As the four-hour hackathon concluded, I couldn’t help but feel invigorated by the energy and enthusiasm of my fellow participants.

The retreat provided us with the perfect environment to harness our collective creativity and expertise, and Tyk’s hackathon was the pinnacle of this experience. It demonstrated the incredible power of focused teamwork in our digital and attention-overloaded world.

Taking a step back 

The Tyk hackathon reminded me that sometimes, taking a step back from virtual meetings and engaging in direct, meaningful interactions can lead to invaluable breakthroughs and personal connections. I left the retreat with new knowledge and skills, a renewed sense of purpose, and a network of incredible individuals who share the same passion for growth and improvement.

As we continue to navigate the evolving landscape of work and collaboration, Tyk’s grand hackathon stands as an example of inspiration, reminding us of the transformative potential of coming together with a shared goal and deadline. It is a reminder that the human element remains irreplaceable in our quest for progress.

So, here’s to the power of hackathons, the synergy of joint effort, and the boundless creativity that emerges when we unite in pursuit of positive change.