Another epic Tech23

Pitching @ Tech23

“Invention is a solo event. Innovation is almost always a team sport.” – Larry Marshall, CEO CSIRO

This is just one of the stellar quotes that came out of the seventh annual Tech23 event on 17 November in Sydney. The event celebrates Australian innovation by connecting investors, and entrepreneurs from across enterprise, government, university and industry sectors.

23 young companies with high growth potential and technical expertise pitched their stories and problems they’re tackling, with industry experts responding with both insights and advice. But outside of the presentations themselves, one of the most important parts of the event constantly reinforced throughout the day is the connections and collaboration between brilliant people from all walks of the innovation ecosystem. Continue reading

Implementing Autosuggest in Elasticsearch

In this article I look at several different ways to use Elasticsearch to implement autosuggest.

Most of us make use of some sort of autosuggest functionality several times per day to the point of barely even noticing it. Autosuggest functionality can help a user fill form input fields by prompting them with likely completions and even alternatives to the text they are typing as they type it.  In what follows, I will use the the term “autocomplete” in the strict sense of completing what the user has typed so far, and “autosuggest” in the wider sense of suggesting not just completions, but also alternatives that the user may have intended.

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How to hack yourself a 3D room camera

I sometimes get the feeling that Google is watching me.

I don’t mean the way it emails me three hours before I have to catch a plane, or how it recommends news articles I actually would like to read, or how it does that thing where ads follow me all around the internet. That’s not paranoia. We all know they’re watching us for that stuff.

No, I’m talking about REA Hack Day projects.

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How to use solutions-focused scaling for Agile Retrospectives

Most Agile retrospectives are about how the team is feeling e.g. happy, sad, confused etc. We then try and understand the cause of the problem so that we can fix it, in the same way that we try to debug an issue with a software program. This approach makes sense when dealing with complicated problems, such as software, which have direct cause effect relationships. However, when working with team dynamics, people interactions and feelings, we are working with, and within, a complex system that doesn’t have a direct cause and effect relationships.

Trying to understand the root cause of something in a complex system can take a lot of time, and isn’t necessarily helpful in finding the desired solution. In complex systems, there is no direct relationship between a problem and the desired solution – this is one of the things that defines a complex system

Solutions-focused approaches to change[1] have shown that a more direct approach for complex systems is to investigate for clues of where evidence of the solution you want is happening already and do more of it. In addition you can also identify small actions to take, like mini-experiments, to see if these actions nudge the complex system in the direction of the desired solution.
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Hack Day 101 (and why it’s essential for your business)

Employee led innovation is nothing new.

Google 20% time is acknowledged for producing a number of key product innovations like Gmail and Docs (although it’s understood they have officially killed off that perk). Over at Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke extensively of “The Hacker Way” in their IPO filing to the SEC.

What is not as widely known is that employee time can be traced all the way back to Post-WW2 in the United States. It was 1948 and multinational manufacturer 3M instigated “15% time“. In 1974 an employee by the name of Art Fry used this time to develop a means of applying an adhesive to the back of a piece of paper and the post-it note was born.

In addition to the Silicon Valley titans, several companies have embraced employee time to foster innovation, all with pretty cool names: BlueSky (Apple), [in]Cubator (LinkedIn), Hackweek (Dropbox), The Garage (Microsoft), ShipIt (Atlassian).

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Innovation Day, March 2011.

At realestate.com.au, we are committed to several core values that drive our business and keep us ahead in the market; both in terms of business value that we deliver and also the quality of the products.

One of our core values is innovation. We, as a company, are committed to innovation and provide an avenue for the entire business to take some time during business hours and try and do something with our products, processes or even the way we think about it, and turn it into something different. As a means of realising this, we have instituted “Innovation Day”. A day and half every quarter to do what you will with existing or new products, processes or tools and turn it into something interesting and/or useful for the business.

Recently, we had our first innovation day for this year, on 31st of March, 1st of April , 2011. The participation was vigorous and all the Q/A sessions involving each presentation were very in depth and illuminating. One of the most pleasing aspects of the presentation was how well thought out the future scope was, for each idea. Hopefully, we will soon be able to put these ideas into business practice.

Some pictures from the event:

Thanks to all the people who participated in this event and to all those who facilitated it.

Special thanks to Sam Weller and Mike Breeze for organising one of the best innovation days this company has had.