Cultivating Company Culture: How We Made A Hogwarts App in Slack
At LumenAd, we rely on Slack for pretty much all communication — I’m talking thousands of messages each week.
But its potential lies in much more than just messaging. Thanks to the depth of Slack’s customization capabilities (sending gifs, custom emojis, etc.), it’s a huge driver of company culture as well.
Which got me thinking: as someone who grew up reading Harry Potter books, I’ve always wanted to award points when someone does something cool (just like the professors at Hogwarts).
So, I built a custom Slack command to give, manage and keep track of points and ultimately award a company House Cup at the end of the year.
Here’s a picture from last year’s ceremony:
Why I Made It
When I joined LumenAd last year I had a lot of questions. It’s a complicated industry and helping to develop software that simplifies it all is no small task. My first step was understanding every nuance, secret, and yes, defense against the dark arts of adtech.
Luckily, there were plenty of people I could reach out to — and I did. I was interrupting people two or three times a day to ask questions. Not only were they answering my questions at all hours, but they were all so nice.
As the year progressed and the holiday season approached, I started thinking about giving back. At the same time I was researching Amazon Web Services (AWS) to see what kind of lightweight apps I could build without a lot of server management.
So, what do you get an entire software company of awesome people?
Simple: software. Thus, the Hogwarts app was born.
Why It Matters
The Hogwarts app has been great for company culture and team building. The simple act of giving a colleague points for helping you out or answering a question makes all the interruptions of the normal work day smoother.
Did someone go above and beyond? You can recognize their efforts with points.
Did someone double book the conference room? Take away some points!
We have lots of fun with it too. Everyone sorts themselves into their preferred houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw (even a few Dementors as well). We also give each other titles and nicknames.
Here’s how it looks in action:
The app keeps track of everyone’s individual point totals as well as house totals. We all compete to see which house will win the LumenAd House Cup by earning the most points (that is, by being the most helpful) in December at the annual holiday party.
Why You Should Make It
It works! I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive feedback from the app. Everyone loves it and it gets tons of use.
On a professional development level, this project serves as a great introduction to AWS if you’re looking to learn some serverless tech.
On a company culture level, the Hogwarts App a great way to keep a little magic around especially during crunch time.
Here’s How You Do It
Inspired? Check out this repo I made.
It contains all the code you need to make your own Hogwarts app as well as step-by-step instructions for everything you need.
Now I challenge you to become a Headmaster and bring a little magic to your company!
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