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Rethinking our annual makeathons: Southeast Asia

  • Posted on August 26, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

A key part of Avanade’s global innovation program – !nnovate – are the regional Makeathon events. What is a Makeathon? Each of Avanade’s regions bring together their employees to hold a multi-day event where teams come up with ideas to solve client or societal challenges.

In a typical year, it’s an exciting, collaborative event. You can almost feel ideas whizzing through the air. But as COVID-19 spread across the world and shut down offices this spring, it became clear that Makeathons could not go forward as usual. One option would have been for us to pause these events. But we saw the passion and innovation that our teams were bringing forward across the world, and we knew that there is no better time to come together to celebrate our innovative spirit. Did things look different? Yes! We’ve gathered stories from four regions, and this is part 3 in the four-part series.

Our office, out of bounds

Makeathons are inherently social and physical events usually completed over a 24- or 48- hour sprint. In 2020, this was turned on its head.

As COVID-19 took hold our offices were declared out-of-bounds, physical distancing became a default, and working from home the norm. It looked like the good work acquiring our client challenge (an omni-channel retailer), and sponsorship from Microsoft, would be for nought. Facing the prospect of having to cancel the event, we had some rapid decisions to make. Southeast Asia would become one of the first regions to go virtual.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst

Fortunately, the likelihood of this very scenario happening had already been taken into consideration. It was decided early on that we would allow participants to form teams and share with them as much information about the challenges as possible, all to ensure continuity regardless of format. This is quite unlike the organised chaos of your usual Makeathon, but it allowed us to pivot to a virtual event with ease.

In the 4-week run up to the event, weekly Teams calls provided 80 participants with momentum and all the info they needed to plan ahead. Once the announcement came that we would be going fully virtual, all 10 teams embraced it (with a little hesitation) and began to conceptualise their solutions before getting ready for their final presentation. Both number of participants and number of teams were up by 10% in comparison to the physical event the year before.

The big day

Rather than being present for the full day, teams had time to craft their ideas and get ready for a specific time slot to present to the leadership team and the client over Teams.

Seeing what others have done is a big part of a Makeathon. We made sure not to lose that by providing a live stream to everyone in the company. This proved a great success as up to a third of our people joined the live stream (a rare feat on a working day).

In true Avanade spirit, all 10 teams presented well thought out solutions backed up by high-fidelity customer journeys, prototypes, videos. Impressing the judges and clients with their thinking, their knowledge of power platform and how Microsoft teams can be used to run virtual events.

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