Rethinking our annual makeathons: Italy

  • Posted on August 12, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Rethinking our annual makeathons: Italy

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 1 in the four-part series.

On Feb. 28, everything was ready for our regional Makeathon event: It was planned for mid-March, we had the location set, the teams engaged, an astonishing panel of guests and even organized for the individual lunch boxes tailored to every participant’s special food needs.

And it was right then that Italy was locked down.

Our 2020 event was going to be a huge one: We had four important customers participating who provided two business challenges each for a total of eight different challenges. We had 112 people over 16 teams ready on the blocks.

It took us a few days to realize that it wasn’t going to be a simple delay, and if we wanted to keep the Makeathon alive we’d really have to rethink … to respond, reset, renew. We needed to find a formula to allow the sudden distance to actually unite us.

And we came out with what has been a long journey, for our people and our clients, culminating in a weeks-long virtual event. A month full of activities, a path rich in content that allowed everyone to extend their network, familiarize themselves with new colleagues, technologies and methods out of their everyday professional life.

Continuous interaction between teams and clients highlighted how much we value those relationships – finding solutions to client needs has always been a fundamental aspect to Makeathons, and we are always stimulated by the possibility of connecting with them on concrete challenges.

The number of 112 participants represents roughly 10% of Italy’s employees, and there were even more people involved from the Studio and marketing teams as well as dedicated mentors. We’ve also seen exponential growth in participation: We had 48 participants at our first Makethon, 64 the next year, and now 112. It’s a clear sign of how important innovation is for us.

We produced 16 concepts, each one with a prototype, and the overall quality of the work resulted top notch. In some cases, the work exceeded any expectations: We had a major client congratulating the teams for their ability to show their brand’s values “even better than we can.” He then asked me if this is our standard quality. “Of course it’s not,” I said. “This is just what we achieve with a couple of hours in our time off.”

Roberto Chinelli

Great job. We rock :-) 

August 24, 2020

Sophie Zammit

Great initiative !

August 21, 2020

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