The Kinnect Challenge
Kin + Carta, like all companies, was rocked when the pandemic hit. So much of our nature as a consultancy had to be transformed to fit into the new socially-distant way of interacting. The way we worked, maintained our culture, and connected with each other had to evolve, and that had to happen fast.
To tackle this opportunity, I led the Labs team in launching the Kinnect Challenge: a prolonged hackathon revolving around forming meaningful connections in a remote world.
Our goal was to leverage the technologies that we use to drive business value for our clients and turn them inwards to drive cultural value within our firm. This was actually something that Henry Oyuela, our VP of Connective Services, posed as a challenge for me and my new hire cohort on our first day at Kin + Carta. It's stuck with me ever since!
To bring this vision to life, we had to democratize innovation, empowering all Kin to partake. We planned a roadmap, spun up an intake process for ideas, and designed an incubation playbook specifically around removing any barriers to innovation.
As ideas flowed in, we worked tirelessly to socialize them on all outlets, attracting innovators across functions, levels, and office locations to form robust teams. As a team, we made sure to recognize all those who had joined whenever we made announcements, with the intent to encourage others to participate. To ensure participation and celebration was inclusive across our locations, I regularly presented multiple times per week, in both English and Spanish, to audiences of hundreds of Kin.
Over the Hackathon’s five month duration, I and the Labs team operated as incubators - helping ideators structure their ideas, attract and form cross-functional teams with like-minded innovators, and design roadmaps to releases.
At the Hackathon’s end, we celebrated the fantastic work made by three projects that drastically reimagined, if not reshaped, the way employees at Kin + Carta interact with each other:
- "Fancy Mtg U Here" frictionlessly enables random, short, unscheduled encounters.
- "Office World" is like Animal Crossing, but for Kin. It allows Kin to interact with one another in real-time within a shared, virtual world, which is modelled to the pixel after our Chicago office.
- "The Kinnect App" combines the swipe-interface of modern dating apps, endearing Buzzfeed quizzes, and state of the art ML with the goal of creating real friendships in the workplace.