Last week wrapped up our Q4 hackweek, a week during which team members from various departments broke into even more teams to concentrate on a single, specialized project. Seven grueling days, in some cases weekends, full of coffee and energy drinks, late nights and short naps. Some teams squeezed over 100 hours of work into that time, focused as they were on creating the best final product possible.

Fourteen teams participated, and nearly all projects were completed and in production by last Friday. Adorned in matching t-shirts, each team presented their project to the office at large, though it was the panel of judges (read: executive team) to whom they strove to relay the true value of what they had accomplished. And with 14  teams, well, let’s just say there were some pretty astounding and inspirational accomplishments.

Of course there was also the usual support from the office in the form of sustenance, including a delectable oven-roasted pig only missing the apple in its mouth (my guess is that Katniss shot it out beforehand), an omelet bar, and an untold amount of pizza. But it was worth it. In that short amount of time, over 11 projects were built, tested, and pushed into production; and the rest were incredibly close. It’s an impressive amount of work, only accomplished because of the breakneck pace and complete dedication teams had to their specific projects. Ultimately, however, that pace is unsustainable. One hackweek per quarter gives teams enough time to recoup, focus on other projects, and develop ideas for the next hackweek.

Why a “hackweek”?

Simply put, it’s our employees’ time to shine. Since they’re on the ground, so to speak, they have first-hand experience of the inadequacies or inconveniences of their departments. However, they’re often unable to take the time out of their days to create solutions. Enter hackweek. During that week, they have the opportunity to contribute something of their own to the business, to show their ingenuity and inventiveness around everything from solving recruitment problems to increasing sales to improving development time. Plus, it’s a serious booster shot of culture. At least around here, almost nothing gets people more amped than hackweek. I highly recommend giving it a shot within your organization.