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Geeks in a competitive arena

Michael-Deady ‎02-19-2013 09:18 AM - edited ‎06-23-2015 03:09 PM

While none of the teams that I typically root for made it to the Super Bowl this year (Ravens vs. Niners, Go Cowboys!!) or as it was referred to as “the super brothers bowl”, it was one of the best that I’ve seen in a long time. The game on the field was spectacular and the halftime show Beyoncé put on was fantastic.


In previous years I would have been more interested in the commercials than in the game itself. Which brings me to an interesting observation, it doesn’t matter who you are; we are all drawn to friendly competition as part of our human DNA. Whether it’s the World Cup, World Series, Olympics, or even America’s football, you seem to get drawn into the competitive spirit of the event. While sports typically exemplify our competitive nature, most teams gain an advantage with their mental and intellectual preparedness.


In fact, I believe intellectual competition is one of the key ingredients to innovation and creativity. Contests and competition get our adrenaline pumping, our blood flowing and (most of all) knock the cobwebs out of our gray matter. As someone once told me, it makes it a little easier to wake up in the morning if we challenge ourselves in a little competition, whether real or perceived.


Code competitions—hackathon!


A few days back before the Super Bowl, a friend of mine asked me if I was interested in participating in a codefest (hackathon). The request sparked a conversation around the coding and design competitions that I used to compete in back in college. I have sometimes referred to them as the Geek Olympics.


If you haven’t been involved in these design and coding competitions, the premise is that a company or organization gives you a real-life scenario or situation. You and your design team have three to four hours to design and develop a solution for the given problem. You’re graded on several different criteria:

  • Design
  • Creativity
  • Feasibility
  • Implementation of your design

Once the competition is complete the solutions are made public to help peers in your areas of expertise help them do their jobs better (it’s one thing to compete, it’s another to help others).


Real-life application of a hackathon


Hackathons is more feasible in a college setting, but what about in today’s workplace world?


I would like to see a combination of both ideas (competitive and collaborative). We could take a tool like ALM (or Fortify, or ITSM Etc.) and find real-world situations that people are facing in industry today. We would then hand that same issue over to several teams to design and develop solutions as a group then select the best solution. This would give us that collaborative aspect as well as friendly competition; which could give you bragging rights and a feeling of helping others.


Throw in some Red Bull™ and in a lot of sweet snacks and you’d have an event that could draw some spectators—because there’s nothing funnier than watching people code while hopped up on Red Bull. In fact, if this was a sanctioned sport, Red Bull would probably be considered a contraband substance with league fines and suspensions.



This is the kind of thing I daydream about when I am stuck on a problem—events to make work fun. If you are interested in such a concept or have ideas or your own, please feel free to contact me. I would love to help make something like this happen, I don’t know how, but it sounds like fun!





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About the Author


Michael Deady is a Pr. Consultant & Solution Architect for Teksystems, center on quality, aimed at client's satisfaction, and long-term success. Perceived by clients, peers, and supervisors as a leader with the proven ability to lead development and quality assurance teams through software-development life cycle phases, to ensure quality of new products. He specializes in software development, testing, and security. He also loves science fiction movies and anything to do with Texas.

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