Igniting Innovation: Our Unconventional Journey from Isolation to Collaboration

25.08.23 by Yehor Kachanov

Igniting Innovation: Our Unconventional Journey from Isolation to Collaboration

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6 min read

Learn practical tips to level up teamwork from Quick Commerce folks. Take a sneak peek at their awesome practices and events behind the scenes.

Innovation: What’s the Buzz?

There are a whole bunch of definitions of what innovation is out there, but they all come down to a few things: doing new stuff, making things better, and sharing awesome ideas and technologies. (You can trust the wiki on this one). When it comes to product development, innovation means cooking up more effective products, processes, services, and tech, or even flipping the whole business model upside down.

Now, here’s a quote that’ll make you ponder. Robert Fritz once said, “It’s not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does.” And guess what? That wisdom applies to Innovation too. It’s not about going wild and innovating everything under the sun, ’cause that could actually be a disaster. Instead, the real magic lies in intentionally fostering an innovation culture that brings along important sweet rewards:

  • We unlock a treasure chest of creative ideas to tackle all those pesky business, tech, and user problems
  • We go full throttle with continuous improvement in the ways we work
  • We empower our peeps to dive into new technologies and experiment in a safe space
  • We broaden perspectives of what is possible

There is no way we could force or install a culture of innovation. But what we can do is create an environment where innovation can bloom like a field of wildflowers. Here’s what we need:

  • Gather the dream team from various teams and functions
  • Provide a safe space to experiment, where crazy ideas are welcomed with open arms
  • Give a space, structure, and secure time for people
  • And of course, we need our leaders to have our backs, cheering us on like the biggest supporters in the game. Go team, go!
  • Oh, and let’s not forget the cherry on top: inspiring challenges. We need juicy problems to sink our teeth into

All this awesomeness is way easier when we can work together, face to face, in one space. However, circumstances changed when unexpected events impacted our ability to collaborate. The pandemic brought about isolation and disconnection, shifting us from big offices to remote work on Zoom, limiting our interactions beyond our team or function bubbles. We faced the challenge of continuing to innovate under these new circumstances.

Some studies and articles pointed to the same thing: the pandemic was messing with our creative mojo (1,2,3). A few companies with previous experience did better with remote work, but most struggled. So when the pandemic improved, many companies quickly changed their tune and wanted people back in the office. They missed the creative energy that comes from rubbing shoulders with your teammates. They knew that innovation needed human connection.

Tech Talks

In the summer of 2020, during the Quick Commerce Retrospective, one big issue that people pointed out was that we didn’t really know what other teams were up to and we weren’t sharing knowledge effectively. So, we came up with the idea to have weekly Tech Talks to bridge the gap between engineers from different teams and tribes. We started them on Zoom, but in 2022, we spiced things up with office meetups featuring beers and donuts. The atmosphere was electric during our first offline Talks. People were more engaged, asking questions, and having lively discussions. It was a breath of fresh air compared to the usual Zoom routine. From then on, we offered both online and offline options to keep the momentum going. We’ve hit a milestone of 100 Talks to date!

Breaking Down Barriers: The Birth of New Initiatives

Now that people are starting to show up at the office more frequently, we have started to have more face-to-face squad-level workshops. It’s all about that personal touch and real-time brainstorming. Then we’ve got an insatiable appetite to break free from our squads and mingle with other squads and functions. Product, design, tech, data… you name it! We were all about that cross-pollination. Because we know that thinking outside the box is where the real magic happens. We want fresh perspectives, wild ideas, and holistic solutions.

So, what’s on the menu? We’ve got Domain Day, Tech Agora, and Hackathon. These initiatives were born out of our quest for space, time, and context for collaboration, and innovation. Let me break it down for you.

Domain Day

One of the first big offline sessions we started to conduct was Domain Day. Domains are like squads on steroids, tackling bigger strategic challenges, and owning a wider scope. Usually, we’re talking 5-7 squads rocking it together. Take the Assortment and Content Domain or the Supply Chain Domain, for example.

The idea to hold them came naturally. Our domain leaders had these crystal-clear visions and ambitious strategies. But we had a bunch of new folks joining who needed to catch up. We didn’t want to spoon-feed them solutions and roadmaps. We wanted to give them the context of what we’re all about and the challenges ahead. That way, they could bring their own creative ideas and initiatives to the table, across squads and functions.

We knew Zoom wasn’t gonna cut it with those dreaded black boxes. Our intangible goal was to build trust inside the domain as well. That’s why we went offline for the first round, with the option to join over Zoom if needed.

Check out our typical Domain Day agenda:

  • We kick things off with some serious team building. Also, we integrate fostering trust and camaraderie in almost all other activities throughout the day.
  • We share our vision and strategy in engaging ways. Think quizzes, light talks, and all that jazz.
  • We have some awesome games that help people wrap their heads around how our services and products come together from start to finish.
  • Each team gets a chance to share their knowledge and insights.
  • We dive deep into understanding our users and their needs.
  • Oh, and let’s not forget the rapid hackathon, the domain retrospective, and the quarter planning. We cover all the bases!

We wrap up the day with an awesome team activity outside the office. Axe-throwing, anyone? 🪓 Lasertag? 🔫 Don’t worry, no injuries to report!

The feedback we usually get is gold. People say things like, “I felt onboarded in one day instead of three months,” or “Now I see how everything fits together and where our squad can make a difference.” And the best one? “We forgot how effective and energizing face-to-face collaboration can be!”

Tech Agora

Just like other companies, we have our regular Sprint Reviews where squads show off their cool products and services. But hey, something was missing. Our awesome engineers didn’t have a chance to dive into the nitty-gritty details of what’s under the hood. Plus, these reviews were mostly focused on the squad level, hardly ever touching on the bigger picture of domains. We wanted to mix things up and have a cross-collaboration of brilliant technical solutions across domains and squads. And that’s how Tech Agora was born!

Let me take you back to ancient Greece for a second. The Agora is that buzzing public space in city-states where there was a political and social life. That’s our inspiration. Tech Agora is our very own gathering place. Every second week teams from each domain get a chance to share what they’re working on, the problems they’re tackling, the challenges they’re facing, and the fantastic solutions they’re building.

Up until now, we’ve had a whopping 15 Tech Agora sessions with a mind-blowing lineup of 47 fascinating topics. We’re talking about everything from “Super Graph Gateway” to “Product Search Optimization.” We’re not stopping there! We’re just getting started and there’s plenty more excitement to come.


The last but not least piece of the puzzle of how we nurture the culture of innovation and knowledge building is through running regular two-day Hackathons. Take our latest hackathon, for instance, where we dived into the wild world of Generative AI. It’s the perfect way to break free from the usual roadmap grind and give people the freedom to experiment with new tech and unleash their wildest, craziest ideas. We’ve actually spilled the beans on how we run these hackathons in the blog post Q-Commerce AI Odyssey Begins!, so make sure you give it a read! Trust me, it’s worth it!


We’ve just given you a snapshot of how we drive the innovation and knowledge-sharing scene. We’ve already got a truckload of fresh ideas to take things up a notch and elevate our existing initiatives. We hope you found our journey inspiring and useful. And hey, that’s part of our knowledge-sharing culture, reaching out to the outer world—you! Drop us a comment on how you drive these awesome things in your teams and organizations. We’re all ears and super stoked to hear from you!

If you like what you’ve read and you’re someone who wants to work on open, interesting projects in a caring environment, check out our full list of open roles here – from Backend to Frontend and everything in between. We’d love to have you on board for an amazing journey ahead.

Igniting Innovation: Our Unconventional Journey from Isolation to Collaboration
Yehor Kachanov
Senior Agile Coach
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