Every company, regardless of industry, walks the same balancing act between innovation and overhead. The difference between staying afloat and becoming a market leader can be as simple as using your resources wisely. For many, your largest resource is your employee base.
So how do you empower employees and ensure you’re utilizing their talents to the highest capacity? While there is no “silver bullet” solution to that nebulous question, here’s how CoreLogic has approached encouraging employee ownership and creativity while providing a platform to share ideas and business cases.
Since 2013, CoreLogic Valuation Technology (CLVT) has hosted the “Forge,” a 72-hour hackathon, consisting of two days of competition and a third day for presenting a combination of proof of concept and business cases in a 5 minute video for a panel of judges and their fellow participants. Employees from all levels are encouraged to participate and provide concepts that range from solutions or improvements to in-house tools or existing products to entirely new products and services.
Rebekah Champagne, Sr. Professional, Product Marketing Manager, offered her perspective to this year’s event. “This was my second year to participate in the Forge, which is pretty exciting because when you think of a hackathon, you probably don’t picture a marketing person as a prime candidate,” said Rebekah. “I love the Forge because it’s not only an opportunity to share your ideas but also a way to showcase your different skill sets. I’m never going to be a coder. It’s not in my arsenal. But, at any given time, I have a running list of passion projects or ideas.
“This year, I got to take one off my list and “court” developers until we built a fantastic team. We pitched it to multiple business leaders across varied CoreLogic campuses. That’s not a normal opportunity out in the wild. Most companies don’t have a platform for people in any role to pitch the next big thing they’d like to see developed.”
For Benjamin Corrie, Professional, Software Engineer, this was his third Forge event with CoreLogic. “I couldn’t believe how many truly spectacular ideas I witnessed as part of the 2020 Forge presentations. Our engineers, business analysts, products managers, and salespeople presented proofs of concept that might prove highly fruitful to the company in coming years. By providing a feedback mechanism for all of us to contribute original ideas, we increase the likelihood that we stay effective and relevant in our respective roles within the market.”
One of our back-to-back winners of the Forge, Chad Williamson, is no stranger to hackathons. “As a software developer and a competitive person, hackathons are my sporting event. The CoreLogic Forge hackathon is a rare opportunity to assemble with coworkers and get creative juices flowing like a river. It takes a lot of qualities to take home a win. You need a compelling idea. You need to be able to prioritize the code you write quickly. You need great team communication. And you need a great presentation to showcase your creation.”
In the past, the Forge was held in person at multiple locations, but due to the well-known challenges 2020 wrought, this year’s event transitioned into a fully remote activity. Even with those hurdles, participation this year was at an all-time high. Knowing there will always be outside factors beyond control, how will you choose to innovate?
The answer might not look exactly the same for other businesses as it does for CoreLogic, but the same “tenets” that make the Forge such an impactful yearly event, can be utilized regardless of industry. And even if you aren’t a technology company with a host of developers ready to whip up solutions, there’s no one as intimately familiar with internal tools, pain points and roadblocks in their daily workflow as employees. People who deal with customers and hear their irritations or wish lists daily are equally invaluable. So the question becomes: how do you tap into these insights? How will you engage and empower your employees — and in turn, your business?
Business Systems Analyst and Scrum Master Andrew King summed it up nicely. “People have ideas. When organizations listen to their people, then they benefit. When organizations create time and space for their people to let loose their creativity and vision, everyone has a chance to win. By offering a distraction-free period where participants can close down their emails and focus, you give rise to visions that could potentially change your very business.”
Sr. Professional, Product Management
Professional, Software Engineer
Sr. Professional, Software Engineer
Professional, Business Systems Analyst