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Permissionless innovation and the Tricentis “Great Ideas Gathering”

Tricentis is all about discovering the next software innovation that will make testing more effective. This commitment to going beyond what’s expected and figuring out what’s really needed is what drove the company’s foundation, and what continues to set us apart. It’s why we promote what I call “permissionless innovation” across the entire company. What does that mean? If you have an idea that you want to experiment with, you do not need to seek any special permission to pursue it. Just do it. Try it. If you try, you will learn. If you learn, you will grow. And if you grow, our company will grow — and that will help our customers succeed. If you make a mistake, it’s not a big deal as long as you learn from it. The only failed experiment is the one you don’t learn from.

To foster this culture of innovation in a fun, collaborative setting, Tricentis hosts a “Great Ideas Gathering” (GIG) several times a year, and it has been attracting greater (and broader) participation ever since it was introduced in 2012. GIG is like a hackathon, but it’s not restricted to engineering. Employees across all departments are encouraged to take a break from their normal work, self-organize, and come up with the next big idea. Entries are judged based on creativity, business potential, execution, and presentation. After each GIG concludes, we don’t just high-five each other and move on. The product team analyzes each and every entry to see what challenges teams decided to address, then they decide which of the proposed solutions should be productized. The Tricentis Automation Recording Assistant, distributed execution, and neuro-optical visual automation are just a few examples of product capabilities that were conceived during a GIG.

As with most hackathons, GIGs usually involve all-nighters driven by teams gathering around pizza, Red Bull, and beer — followed by an awards ceremony with a little more pizza and a lot more beer. But this year was a little different. In an odd twist of fate, no physical gathering was allowed worldwide at that time we had planned to have this Great Ideas Gathering. However, we didn’t want to delay it. GIG is one of the most anticipated Tricentis events, and our employees have been successfully navigating the nuances of remote/distributed work for years. So, we quickly shifted gears to order-your-own pizza, discovered some cool online whiteboarding/drawing tools, and even fired up a Zoom beer channel for some friendly cross-team bonding. The #gig Slack channel was buzzing with geeky and even philosophical topics — about the calculus of optimizing pizza costs, the transitive properties of pizza proving it was equivalent to pasta carbonara, sophism of such arguments, and so on.

The rules were simple this year: Spend three days working on a team of two to four (no solo entries allowed), and capture the result in a pitch video that’s 10 minutes or less. We ended up with 175 participants from around the globe submitting 54 entries. A total of six committees reviewed and scored all the video pitches, and the top 12 made it to the final round of judging.

This was the first Tricentis GIG that I’ve experienced, and I have to say: The level of enthusiasm and the quality of ideas was simply amazing. With so many intelligent, imaginative, and ingenious people in the company, anything should be possible!

I want to close by calling out some of the award-winning ideas. The competition was fierce, but these are the (somewhat generalized/abstracted) ideas that led the pack:

  • A recommendation engine that helps users/organizations maximize the power of our products
  • An integration for highly-scalable testing within a CI/CD pipeline
  • A tool that predicts the risk level in a release and helps you get high-risk releases back on track
  • A business-focused approach to testing complex enterprise tech landscapes
  • A developer- and QA-friendly approach to testing microservices in containerized environments

This GIG might be over, but the permissionless, rapid innovation continues. It’s in our DNA, and it’s fundamental to the success of our customers, our partners, our company, and the software testing profession.