Collab Report: Honeywell Huddle

As the collaboration platform for Tech Square, Sandbox ATL's partnerships help focus our efforts to connect people and ideas. The Collab Report series explores the collaborations these partnerships support by giving you an inside look at the why and how of each. 

Collaboration: The Huddle Series

Partner: Honeywell 

Origin Story: When we first began to explore a partnership, we invited Bruce Calder and Andrew Duca from Honeywell to join us for Bal Bansal's Listen + Learn talk. It was an experimental format that limited attendance and gathered people from different sectors and perspectives. It was something special which inspired Honeywell and Sandbox to develop out the concept further into what has become the Honeywell Huddle

Creative Essence: Deep Dive + Hands-On Collaboration

A Bit Longer Explanation: Convene 30 people from different sectors and perspectives, invite a subject matter expert to share a deep dive on a selected topic and end by posing a Big Challenge, assemble attendees into cross-disciplinary teams to create solutions to this Big Challenge, have the teams present their work, and then share insights with the broader community.

First Experiment - Winning the Platform Talent War: Since Honeywell and Sandbox are both interested in platform strategies, we decided to focus on that theme and invited Sandbox ATL member, Peter Evans from KPMG, to be our first featured subject matter expert. In discussing the concept with him, Peter mentioned the biggest constraint for platform companies is attracting the limited developer talent to build on them. Inspiration struck and we decided our first Honeywell Huddle experiment would be entitled "Winning the Platform Talent War".


The Scene Upon Arrival: As with every Sandbox event, we started stirring the pot when attendees arrived. Each person checked-in and was given a Connections Card. They could grab a refreshment but to unlock their dinner, they needed to meet three new people by asking them the designated question of the day. We find this gives even the most introverted folks a viable excuse to talk to complete strangers in an unguarded fashion. When everyone had arrived and finished their cards, we gathered the group for the official welcome and Peter's talk. 

Expert Deep Dive Presentation: We gave Peter fifteen minutes to share findings of his research and answer questions. Here are the slides Peter Evans shared with us:


Collaborative Team Work: Given the topic, we started by evenly distributing the software developers to form the base of five teams. Then we spread out the different personas in the room: corporate innovators, business ops, designers, etc. When the dust settled, we had five groups in front of five different white boards tackling the Big Challenge:

Big Challenge: Using the insights on platform business models, third-party talent constraints, and an array of new technologies like virtual reality, what innovative approach will you take to attract and engage top rate developers to support your platform’s growth and success?

Team Solutions: The groups formulated their solutions and then presented them to the entire group. Here's the essence of what the five teams shared as solutions and insights:

  1. Create a developers challenge and give the winning teams shares in the company
  2. Different developer personas have different motivations. You've got to understand what drives the business model of the developers clients and optimize for that
  3. Provide a welcoming developer environment with solid SDKs, robust cookbook, and other resources to make their work easier
  4. Consider creating a network of in-person distributive work spaces connected with VR 
  5. Implement the "You code, we fun. You build, we buy." credo. Then give the developers you engage with something akin eSports and NASCAR driver patches to show the developer talent you support 

Deeper Insights and Eurekas: In the days following the event, we sent attendees a survey to get their feedback and insights once they had had time to let the experience settle.

  • I want to create a hub leveraging everyone's existing platforms
  • We're not the only ones wrestling with this problem
  • We need to be thinking "how can we make a developer rich off of our platform?"
  • Software developers are the new talent superstars, almost like athletes.
  • Realizing that some software platforms I use are working hard to keep me as a user/it matters to them that I use their product

In Their Own Words: We also asked attendees to help us describe the event experience to their grandparents or a small child. Here's what they said:

  • A bunch of experts, students, nerds, developers, etc. all got in a room and listened to a presentation and then chatted about an interesting topic (platforms) in a structured way. It was a good way to meet new people and think about the topic in new ways.
  • Opportunity to network with others in the Tech sphere and learn about a current challenge/issue in the tech field
  • Learning more in-depth on a very wide problem from an industry expert
  • Opportunity to connect with others, discuss common problem and brainstorm solutions that you might not of thought of otherwise
  • It was a great networking event and you can get in touch with technology peers and sometimes likeminded people from different companies.

Lessons Learned: Every experiment yields learnings. This time around, we discovered we need to give more time for the group activity, have someone circulate amongst the teams to help facilitate the conversation and balance out group dynamics, and to give a nominal prize for the best group solution as judged by the subject matter expert. 

Next Honeywell Huddle: The next gathering of this series will be in April to discuss overcoming internal and external barriers to collaboration. Look for more details to follow.