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ReadyTalk's Feature Frag (Part I)

Posted by Jason Collins on
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Eric, presenting an idea for Feature FragSo what exactly is a Feature Frag? It's an event focused on feature development; it's quick, it's competitive and we want the best ideas and prototypes to be left standing when the dust settles. 

Let me shed some light on this newly minted term for you, dear reader. Here in the halls of ReadyTalk Engineering, there are a few things that are part of who we are. Video gaming happens to be one of them. Many of our engineers grew up playing 8-bit video games or spent more quarters at the local arcade than they care to count, so you could say that video gaming is a part of our DNA. So, when we decided to put on our first internal hackathon, we wanted it to be memorable. We wanted it to be unique to ReadyTalk, and we wanted it to have a personality of its own; it had to be geeky. So merely calling it a "hackathon" just absolutely would not appease us. Enter Feature Frag! Frag is a term near and dear to many gamers, so it seemed fitting to work it into the name of our event. What can I say, we're geeks at heart!

feature frag  noun

An event held within ReadyTalk Engineering, wherein small teams form with the intent to quickly prototype features over a 3 day period and defeat the other teams for top honors and bragging rights.

 

A team brainstorming prior to Feature Frag kicking offThe idea is simple, really. Take a team of brilliant engineers, put them in a room with some creative product people, add whiteboards, beer and snacks and watch "awesome" happen. Rinse, repeat. The end result is 10 projects, 24 engineers and 72 hours of prototyping great new web conferencing feature ideas and enhancements. We're fragging over 3 days, beginning on a Thursday and ending on the following Monday. We've got 5 different voting categories and 2 teams of voters (one a team of product geniuses dubbed The Idea Machine and one The Geeks, which is the engineering department), and at the end of this event we'll award trophies and dish out plenty of high-fives. Because that's how ReadyTalk Engineering rolls!

This is an experiment, of sorts. We'd love for this to result in innovative prototypes that turn quickly into features hitting the short-term product roadmap. This will certainly be a learning experience for us, as we've never attempted a hackathon before. I've given the impression here that this is a highly competitive event, but in reality everyone wins from this; most of all, our customers win. Check back for a follow-up post where I'll share the highlights from Feature Frag, as well as lessons learned!


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