Imagine Every Week Was Hack Week
August 3, 2013

Imagine Every Week Was Hack Week

by Brian de Haaff

Creating great software is invigorating. And product managers and engineers should be the happiest people on earth. But your company probably never fully benefits from your love of innovation because you are beaten down by soft strategies, weak tools, and squishy communication.

Forget all of that for a second and imagine if you had the opportunity to make every day Innovation Day or if every week was like Hack Week. You could build the unexpected and breakthroughs are always unexpected. You would wake up every morning eager to build what matters, customers would be delighted, and your employer would profit.

In a previous blog post, I wrote about building the Minimum Lovable Product. But we all know that is only possible if you 1) have a higher purpose driving your work and 2) have the freedom to pursue it. The popularity of that post and the continuous feedback drove me to consider the following:

What are the characteristics of a company that pursues true innovation and lovable products every day — not just for one week every year?

So, I created a checklist to help separate the true innovators from the wannabes. How many of these 15 innovation characteristics are true for your company? Complete the simple scorecard using YES and NO and see where you stand. The more times you answer YES, the happier you likely are and the more lovable your product is. There is a scoring system at the end to rate your results.



  • We start with the big ideas

  • Good product ideas are adopted no matter who suggests them

  • We are open to copying other ideas and improving them

  • We are recognized as thought leaders

  • We take calculated risks with our products


  • We have empathy for our customers

  • Our products are easy to use

  • We recommend best practices to our customers

  • We use our products internally

  • Customers love our support


  • Our products work

  • Employees prioritize fixing customer problems ahead of pushing their own agendas

  • Problems are clearly defined before solutions are sought

  • We often throw things out and start over

  • We measure how we are doing

Scoring system (count the number of YES answers to the 15 questions) 13+ Hack Week truly is every week 10+ Thought leader 6+ Sparks of genius <6 How do you spell innovation? ============================================

Consider adding any additional criteria and sharing your crazy Innovation Day or Hack Week stories and results on Hacker News.

Building great software is hard, but it should not be excruciating. We built Aha! with this goal in mind — we wanted to create a new way for product managers and engineers to create brilliant roadmaps and be happy doing it. Sign up for a free 30-day trial now.

Follow the author and Aha! CEO @bdehaaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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