I’m sure you’ve seen them on your favorite show, Silicon Valley. Maybe you’ve heard your engineers talking about them or you’ve just caught wind about them through one of your favorite blogs. However you’ve discovered them, hackathons are a part of the tech world.
The way they are seen most often is in a huge open room of an office building or conference center. Tables lined up spanning throughout the entire facility, with hundreds of computers set up as workstations. Coders typing away, crushing numerous cans of Monster, over-ear headphones cranking some Avicii mix, working 48 hours straight, all to accomplish a common goal.
Hackathons provide a venue for self-expression and creativity through technology. People with technical backgrounds come together, form teams around a problem or idea, and collaboratively code a unique solution from scratch — these generally take shape in the form of websites, mobile apps, and robots.”by Dave fontenot on wtf is a hackathon?
Although the stereotypical hackathon is very much a real thing, there are other ways to implement your own hackathon, throughout your company, in a unique way. As Dave mentioned above, the concept behind a hackathon is simply to provide a venue fostering creativity and teamwork, all working together to achieve a common goal. You’re probably thinking, “this sounds just like a normal day in the office” right? Not quite though. A company-wide hackathon is:
- Focused more on the idea of innovation and building, rather than your typical daily tasks.
- All hands on deck! Get everyone in your company to participate, and to participate together. Get Engineering working with Marketing, get Product working with Sales, etc.
- Like a marathon. The goal is to achieve whatever goals you’ve set, within a specific amount of time.
Now that you’ve got the idea of setting up a company-wide hackathon, below are a couple tips to help plan!
Utilize your company offsite
Your company offsite is a time when you have everyone all in one place and all dedicated to a set agenda. So why not set your agenda to be hackathon-style?! At Joy Labs, we made our yearly company offsite, joyconf, hackathon-style. We rented a VRBO, set up work stations across the house, set our goals prior to joyconf, and then over three days, worked as a team to accomplish what we set out to accomplish. We found that using this company offsite as a hackathon helped achieve big goals in innovation within a short period of time. It allowed for cross-departmental alignment and for creativity to blossom. This also helped eliminate the typical party shenanigans found at most company offsites, and kept employees focused and happy 😊
Have company leaders set the goals
Prior to your hackathon, have your company leaders get together to determine what the ultimate goals of the hackathon are. Remember, this is the time for innovation and creativity! So think big. Senior director of innovation at Capital One Labs, Joshua Greenough, said “Internal hackathons are also a great way to help enable a ‘maker’ culture that is required in a modern technology company… These can be a place for a developer to scratch an itch or experiment with new tools or platforms in a low-risk way.”
However, you decide to implement your company-wide hackathon, take these tips and ideas into consideration. This hackathon concept has become more and more entwined with the tech world and is a very efficient way to accomplish big goals 🧗🏽♀️
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