Last month, a team of 22 Store Managers and 11 Retail Support Centre colleagues got together for the first ever food stores Hackathon.

If you’re a techie (or like to watch American TV) then you might be familiar with the term. A hackathon is an event where computer programmers meet with subject matter experts and collaborate intensively on software projects. The goal is always to create usable software.

So, we took inspiration from this simple idea and instead of a usual listening session where we discuss things that are wrong, we focused on key areas of our jobs and worked together on how we could simplify, change or improve them.

Here’s a few things we worked through:

Supporting change

Change can be overwhelming, and we said that simple communication and a more structured approach to scheduling change would be massively helpful. But just as important is that we invest in time to allow stores to cascade information and brief their teams on change, something which they struggle to do right now.

Rhythm & Routine

The Rhythm & Routine book was a hotly debated topic – while some colleagues felt it made a great training and handover tool, there was agreement that it duplicates a lot of work, and could be split, or made optional to remove unnecessary task.

Leadership and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Another common theme was that there’s too much uncertainty and inconsistency in how we measure performance. With stores having different experiences of which KPIs are the most important, colleagues agreed that a strong, clear and consistent leadership approach to KPIs is essential to help stores.

Next steps

The Colleague Insight team will be working hard to share and champion the ideas raised, taking them to the teams who can help to bring them to reality and inviting those stores back to help shape the change. The hackathon was a great way to get ideas from our colleagues, and we’ll be doing more of these events in 2018 – so watch this space for your opportunity to get involved. In the meantime, if you have any insights you’d like to share any ideas on how we can simplify, change or improve, email us at

Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. Why is everything a hack these days? A hack as defined by the trendy modern use of the word is generally a different way of doing something – a different way to cook a meal, a different use for a product etc. Not sure the outputs of this “hackathon” fit with this. Basically all that’s come from it is what we all already know. Different regions have different KPIs to hit, and different tolerances on them, the r&r book is generally a waste of time as another manual process we could do without, and change is hard. Not difficult. And not hacks as you haven’t come up with any solutions.

    • Hi Steve, as a store manager I had the same frustrations but I never really told anyone or submitted anything. I guess I always thought that ‘someone would be looking at it as its so obviously broken’ IMO. Too many of us take that approach and our voice in stores gets lost.
      The guys involved on the day will be back to further develop the ‘solutions’ which they came up with as part of the morning.
      You sound passionate about this and it would great to get your thoughts. Email me and we can look to get involved in these kinds of sessions in the future or just to get your input on how we can remove more of the frustrations in store.

      • I suspect the addition of tablet computers into stores will see to the majority of what I mentioned.

        The r&r book can be made electronic, without the need to input sales, waste, productivity as these are electronic and can be pulled from their various locations onto the tablet “home screen”, so that WTD KPIs will be all visible at a glance daily, as will the last, say 4 weeks if we need them.

        And change will be made a lot easier as we’ll have a store specific list of tasks to do each day, with a diary available on the tablet to book in briefings etc. This diary should be open for the centre to add things in (load in the daily and weekly bulletin tasks) and for managers to add things in too.

        By the way I like the way McColls do gap checks, they scan an item at a time and correct it there and then, without the need for printed reports. Perhaps this is something we could build into the tablets too, intelligent gap scans whereby we can correct gaps as we scan them.

  2. Looks like fun !
    Some might say the candidates look a little ” hacked off “!!

  3. Here’s a simple hack. Stop using Internet Explorer.

    • Why? Fairly sure most businesses use it.

      • Because it’s slow, buggy a drain on bandwidth and full of exploits. Most businesses use it because their IT departments don’t have the imagination to look at alternatives such as Firefox or even Chrome.
        Personally wouldn’t use anything other than Safari or Firefox. Wouldn’t touch Internet Explorer with a barge pole.

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