For years, we’ve run an annual Hack Week. We blocked off a week in which engineers broke up into small teams and built some amazing proof-of-concept demos, which they showed off at an all company event at the end of the week.
Last year, we tried a more shipping-oriented style, with a focus on building features that could be live, in the product by the end of the week. Creatively, we named this "Ship Week."
It went so well that now we do it twice a year. You can even use it to expose prioritization gaps and execution issues in your regular engineering processes! Read on for the details.
The idea behind our traditional Hack Week was to give engineers the space to pursue high upside ideas – new concepts that could radically change our product. These are sometimes hard to convey in the abstract and can benefit from a prototype instead.
The deliverable at the end of the week was typically a demo, based on throwaway code. For ideas we wanted to move forward with, in theory the next step was to design and build a “real” version of the feature.