insights by infactory in-factory GmbH OpenSpace and Hackday at in-factory

At in-factory, all employees meet twice a year for further training or a team event, which takes place either one or two days in a hotel.

In the past, presentations by employees on customer-specific IT topics were usually presented there. Each employee had to prepare a presentation, and neither the topics nor the speaker could be chosen freely.

Due to the ideas of new forms of work and agile software development, we started in 2014 with the first small changes in process and organization, so that more employees were actively involved in the program and became presenters. One of the first items on the agenda was the “5-minute fame”. Each employee and project had 5 minutes to present a new feature, insight or success.

The Hackday

After two years of small changes, the first big change came with the introduction of the Hackday (also known as Hackathon).

The second day was no longer to be filled with frontal presentations, but was organized as a Hackday. The employees were told the topic and a short description a few days beforehand:

Which task the employee would like to take on should be chosen independently according to interest, previous knowledge, desire for something new or inclination. Topics can be worked on alone or as a team. The decisive factor is that something presentable is produced at the end of the day.

There are tasks that will probably not be completed in the six hours of time or that require preparation. Therefore, it is a good idea to pick a topic in advance and do small preparatory tasks beforehand.

The tasks are widely spread and range from hacking software, writing texts to creating slides. Everyone should find something suitable. Other tasks are welcome to be suggested.

Excerpt from the email to all employees about the hackday process

With the feedback from the day, further successful Hackdays were subsequently held. To this day, they are an integral part of our workshop days.


After two more years, the next big change was on the horizon. The first day with scheduled presentations was replaced by the OpenSpace format.

Again, the changes were briefly explained to the participants via email.

The process is a bit different this time and we think everyone will be happier and have more fun. It is an experiment.

As you can see in the wiki [link to company wiki], the first workshop day has no program, only a time grid. We will work out the program together and there will be 2 to 3 tracks in parallel. The organizational form can be found as OpenSpace and the idea is to systematize the conversations in coffee breaks at conferences and spread them over the whole day.

A principle is also that everyone is a participant and a presenter. Therefore, anyone can present their issues in the morning plenary and hold a session with others. The issues can be prepared presentations, as well as asking a question, problem or concern and seeking help.

There are already some issues in the wiki under topic collection [link to company wiki]. However, this is not a requirement to offer a session.

Excerpt from the email to all employees about the Open Space process

Procedure in OpenSpace

After the first experiment with OpenSpace, the feedback from the participants was consistently positive. Since then, we have conducted workshops exclusively in this format.

The workshop starts with a short introduction to OpenSpace. For this purpose, posters (*) with the most important principles are distributed in the conference room at the beginning of the first session and the principles are explained with the help of these drawings.

The timetable for the day is drawn up on the theme wall or marketplace. In the morning, only the times and the rooms are written on the theme wall. Participants present a topic or their concern to the group one after the other. The basic interest is asked and with the knowledge an appropriate room and the time are determined. At the end, all concerns are listed on the topic wall and thus the roadmap for the day is set.

(*Photo) Poster of the company Neuland.

Author: Marc Gehling


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