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Rethinking our annual makeathons: Canada

  • Posted on September 8, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Bruno Capuano.

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 4 in the four-part series.

What’s a Makeathon? We encourage our people to walk away from their daily jobs and focus and learn something new: new technologies, new business trends or anything else. And with all this new knowledge, they build diverse teams and propose innovative solutions to challenges. It is an exciting and collaborative event, and each Avanade region globally adapts the Makeathon concept to fit into their agenda.

For example, one of our biggest challenges in Canada is the distance between our offices. Canada is a big country. A flight from Toronto to Vancouver is 5.5 hours. The same time for a flight between Madrid to Moscow, crossing all Europe. We have offices 6 majors cities in Canada, and in 2020, we decided to host our annual Makeathon in virtual mode.

Once we started to think about a virtual hackathon, we also realized that COVID-19 was spreading across the world and shutting down offices. After a careful consideration, and based on the experience of the world’s largest Microsoft Teams Hackathon, we decided to get the best of Microsoft Teams as the main platform for our Canada Makeathon 2020.

Canada Makeathon 2020

Teams from across Canada were encouraged to unleash their creativity and propose cutting edge ideas. The ideas were focused on solve internal and client challenges. To support these teams during the Makeathon lifetime, we hosted several training sessions, all of them supported by Microsoft Teams.

We also schedule a full week for the presentations. We hosted the presentations during lunch time, so the ideas were available to everyone interested all around Canada. We leveraged the complete remote experience by recording and sharing the contents with all the company. A full week voting process was created and we had amazing participation and great feedback for the teams and about the virtual event.

Finally, we matched our global 20th Anniversary celebrations with the awards ceremony. Three winners, for each one of our Canada regions did an amazing job. When the 2020 Canada Makeathon finished, we were on full COVID-19 lockdown. Our virtual approach helped us to maintain the plan and learn and share amazing ideas to all of Avanade.

Lessons Learned

Let me share some insights from the complete Makeathon experience:

We had more than 70 participants registered to build 10 teams for the Makeathon, with participants from Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, New York, Seattle and Mumbai. We also had the support of Teams helped to address the challenge of time zones.

And there were some remarkable stories to share! Some teams presented in distributed mode. One team member was presenting from a Starbucks, going to a client meeting, while the rest of the team were in a meeting room all together. The final presentation was a success!

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