Monday, August 10, 2015

Why your company may need a Hackathon

A Hackathon is a creative problem solving / focused innovation exercise where people in your company will take a fixed time-out from regular work to solve problems or suggest new ideas. Participants will form small groups and code solutions (prototypes). At the end of the Hackathon teams will demonstrate  the solution they've "hacked" together.

Why does your company need a Hackathon?

The hackathon is a forum to unlock the creative potential in your team members.

If you are a knowledge based company - and who isn't nowadays - the ability to innovate is key to your future. The day to day tasks  probably keeps your teams focused on execution but don’t offer much opportunity to tap into their creativity. The idea is to give your teams the freedom to step outside the constraints for their day-to-day and see what they can come up with when the ball is in their court. They'll be working on projects they're excited about, not building something because that's what they've been told to do.

As many companies have discovered, it's pretty amazing what can done in a Hackathon. Often these implementations / ideas turn up to be new business opportunities. However, events like these are unpredictable.  There are no guarantees, with failures as likely as success. 

A hackathon is not a panacea but instead should be part of an overall strategy to spur innovation. 

The investment is small and the reward is potentially huge.

Other Benefits:
  • It's a great team building exercise that also results in tangible outcomes for the company in terms of solutions and new business opportunities.
  • It sends a clear message that you value innovation
  • Creates positive energy and helps morale. It’s also a learning experience
  • Unlocks the creative potential in our team members
  • Helps retain talent. And even helps attract talent (with so many companies doing Hackathons not doing it makes us "uncool")

How it works

  1. Employees suggest and brainstorm some ideas
  2. Employees sign up for the short listed ideas and form small teams
  3. Each group is given a fixed time to come up with working code
  4. At the end of the Hackathon, every group demos their work to all participants as well as management

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