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Results from Sprint 1 of the Hack the MIX Hackathon

by Chris Grams on March 25, 2013


chris-grams's picture

Results from Sprint 1 of the Hack the MIX Hackathon

One of the things we love most about our work here at the MIX is the opportunity to engage every day with people working in the trenches to reinvent management in organizations around the world.

That’s why we were so eager to tap into that energy in order to reinvent the MIX itself—to make it even more useful, compelling, and relevant for our ever-growing community of management practitioners. It was only natural that the first place we turned to for ideas about how the MIX could evolve was the MIX community.

In February of this year we asked a group of MIXers who have made key contributions over the past few years to join us in our first ever Hack the MIX hackathon. Over the course of a month, we collaboratively developed a set of almost 100 ideas for how to make the MIX even better than it is today. As usual, we were amazed by the depth, breadth, cleverness, and sheer passion our community produced.

And we’re just getting started. Today, we’d like to open up this conversation to the entire MIX community. Help us hack the MIX! If you’d like to get started right away, click on the link below to join the hackathon. Or if you’d like to learn more about the ideas we uncovered during our initial sprint, read on.

>> Join the hackathon now>>

While we received a wide variety of contributions, we can roughly categorize the ideas we gathered during the initial sprint of the hackathon into three major areas:

  1.  Make the MIX a more practical resource
  2.  Empower people to self-organize and drive activity on their own
  3.  Improve the MIX site experience

In the rest of this post, I’ll go into more detail about what we learned in each area:

1. Make the MIX a more practical resource

What we heard in the hackathon is that MIX community members participate both for inspiration and to get practical advice, ideas, and tools that can directly impact their work and organizations.  Many contributors had ideas for making the MIX an even more practical resource for achieving these goals. It was great to see that these ideas were very much in line with the MIX team’s priorities around bolstering the MIX as a resource that not only inspires, but also equips people for making real progress when it comes to management innovation.

For example, one of the areas that the MIX team has already been focusing on is starting to curate the best content on the MIX to make it easier for community members to access. In the hackathon, MIX contributors suggested some interesting ideas for creating packaged, easy-to-consume content like a Summer reading list, Top 10 lists (both suggested by Jeff Mackanic), and even a Hack Podcast for MIXers on the Move (suggested by Jonathan Opp).

In The MIX Toolshed, Jan Robert Johnsen suggested creating a place on the MIX where, for given topic areas, the MIX community would create a set of tools, guidelines, and maybe even complete frameworks budding management innovators could use to start applying the principles in their organizations.

While many MIXers praised the depth and rigor of the MIX, just as many were eager to find new ways into sometimes-daunting content. Some MIXers suggested the site might benefit from shorter, easier-to-consume-and-create contributions. Deb Mills-Scofield, in Helpful Snippets, offered up a way to create short, “give it a try” suggestions for solving specific issues. In Talk the new language…, Stephen Remedios speculated that more people might be able to weigh in more quickly if we kept entries to Twitter-length, like we did in the Quick MIX event we hosted in November of last year.

The big goal at the MIX is to make real progress in ensuring all of our organizations are fit for the future. Our hackers contributed several clever ideas around taking MIX contributions to the next level with experiments, pilots, and quick hits of impact in the real world.

In Experimentation/Project Platform, Paul Green, Jr.’s idea was to allow contributors to create project spaces on the MIX where they could invite others to contribute to solving an issue specific to their organization. Another contribution by Aaron Anderson resulted in a discussion about how to implement a system like Stack Overflow on the MIX where contributors can pose questions or problems they need help with, and other MIXers can offer their solutions, with the best ones rising to the top. Taylor Tomasini suggested a similar thought in Put the MIX Into Practice.

We were excited to see that several users had ideas for how the MIX could help educate members of the MIX community, especially since we are currently in the process of designing a MIX Academy to do exactly that. In one example, Ellen Weber suggests we Offer an online Interactive Leadership Program that trains budding management innovators so they can eventually personally profit from the knowledge they gain on the MIX.

2. Empower people to self organize and drive activity on their own

Many MIX community members see great value in forming relationships and collaborating with other. They’d love more autonomy when it comes to self-organizing and driving activity within the community. Perhaps one of the most popular suggestions from contributors was to provide additional ways for members of the MIX community to connect and collaborate more easily on the MIX platform.

In Enable Communities of Interest within MIX, Ben Biddle suggests the MIX should develop methods like social tagging to allow members with common interests to find each other. In Embrace Decentralization, Jamie Notter agrees, suggesting the MIX allow for the creation of “sandboxes” where members can engage with each other “at the periphery.”

In his Virtual Beverage De-siloization Hack, Eugene Eric Kim had the idea of picking a few MIX members who share common interests and inviting them to a virtual coffee on Google Hangout. He and two contributors actually even tried it out, hosting their first hangout here. And Susan Resnick West, in More interaction among M-Prize Finalists, offered that M-Prize finalists might benefit from being able to interact with each other more both during and after the competition.

In addition to discussing ways to make it easier for MIXers to meet and collaborate online, several of the contributors felt there is no substitute for in-person meetings. Many contributors liked the idea of Community-Driven In-Person Events and Meetups, with TEDx provided as a good model to follow. Susan Resnick West shared a similar idea in Four square and zip code parties – strengthening the relationships among MIXers.

Some also like the idea of reinventing the MIX Mashup as a more collaborative event (see MIX Mashup by Taylor Tomasini). We agree with many of these ideas and have been actively developing a series of ideas around events, jams, and user-led meetups for the MIX community.

Several contributors expressed interest in allowing community members to create and run their own events within the MIX community. There was some discussion of this in Allow Community Members to Suggest and Run Challenges or Hackathons. But this was also a key point in Paul Green, Jr.’s Experimentation/Project Platform, mentioned above. We recently tested this concept in the Getting Performance without Performance Management Grassroots Hackathon, led by MIX community member Bjarte Bogsnes, and are eager to explore more experiments along these lines.

3. Improve the MIX site experience

What we heard loud and clear from contributors was that the easier and more enjoyable it is to access and interact with the MIX, the more they will want to participate.  Our hackers were brimming with clever ideas for making the MIX experience simpler, more compelling, and more visual.

Alberto Blanco, in MIX meets Pinterest, suggested giving users the ability to curate their own slice of the MIX and to create valuable real estate within the MIX where other users can follow, learn, and be inspired. John Roth in IMAGINE THAT suggested allowing contributors to more easily post images as visual inspiration.

In What’s a compelling experience?, Stephen Remidios thought that the MIX could take inspiration from sites like Flipboard and Zite to develop a more visual, easily consumable way to display content. In Visualizing Content Ideas and Linkages - Relationship Graphs, Rawn Shah suggests coming up with a visual way to link people and ideas on the MIX website.

Contributors were also looking for ways to make it easier to find what they are looking for on the MIX. Users liked the MIX team’s suggestion that the site have better searching, tagging, and filtering tools. We are happy to share that many of these suggestions were already made live in the most recent upgrade of the MIX site that went live a few weeks ago. Two other ideas, Simple yet effective: ‘favourite button’ by Joris Luijke and Highlight and save great ideas by Dave Mason highlighted two additional ways for users to be able to quickly access their favorite content.

Thanks to everyone who contributed their thoughts and ideas during Sprint 1. 

Now we look forward to seeing how we can take these ideas even further. Ready to get started? Join Sprint 2 now. We can’t wait hear from you!

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jessie-henshaw's picture

You might try to counter the tendency for the best ideas being dismissed out of hand because they're not popular yet, or seem to come from different viewpoints than the group thinks are important. so... that'd take more kinds of evaluation than degree of fit to the popular ideal.

ellen-weber's picture

Great innovation possibilities all, and I look forward to reviewing all the parts again. As I facilitate Master Level Leadership Development of Innovation -- leaders continually remind me how it is easy to communicate about such mind-altering leadership and hard to do it. That's why my course holds a Celebration of Innovation where every participant engages in and co-leads an actual innovation.

To think about or talk about or sketch diagrams about innovative leadership requires a very small part of the human brain's amazing equipment for change. To lead change and tweak broken system results activates highly unused parts -- such as working memory. That's why all should co-lead and all should learn from one another - and it can be done:-)

I'd be happy to help develop and stir innovations in an online program where folks literally co-lead change as they develop new innovative leader skills for changing horizons.:-) Others? Ellen