Have you ever looked for a tool that gives you the opportunity to maximize effectiveness in the shortest time possible? If you did, then I'm happy to say that your search is over. Let me introduce you to the magic of a hackathon.
Before I started working in IT, I had no idea what a hackathon is. When I first heard about it, I thought that it's just an excuse for software developers to code for God knows how long. And believe me, that was very foolish because hackathons are definitely not only for programmers. Fortunately I learned from my mistake and very soon discovered the magic of hackathons. They are a very powerful tool that can help you with any project. For the purpose of this article I will use the example of software hackathons, but remember, whatever you do, a hackathon will always be useful.
For those of you who don't know what a hackathon is, let me briefly explain the general idea.
A hackathon is an event where people from different areas of expertise, originally in software development, let's say programmers, graphic designers, UX & UI experts, project managers get together to collaborate on a software project in a specific timeframe. Participants can either work in teams or separately. When you work in teams though, everyone can add their perspective and skills to the mix and of course there will also be the added benefit of a healthy competition between teams.
The main goal of a hackathon is to have a visible result at the end, for example a working product or a creative solution to the problem you were addressing.
Sounds simple right? A bit like a brainstorming session with a small difference of delivering tangible results and having lots of fun :D
If you feel like organising a hackathon, check out our tips how to make it really great!
5 tips how to conduct a good hackathon
1. Diverse teams
Divide your participants into groups with different set of skills so every problem can be approached from many angles.
2. Main goal
Clearly communicate the goal of the hackathon to all the participants. It is very important that everyone knows what they are supposed to achieve by the end of the time. The main goal should be the same for everyone, although teams can have different tasks and results. And that's the idea - people work to achieve the same result, but getting there differently.
Decide how much time the hackathon will take. Make sure that there is enough time to deliver the solution but not too much, so people don't get bored or lose focus. Usually hackathons last from 8-12 hours, but you can also have
24-hour ones. It depends on the goal of the hackathon. The only thing is that once you decide on the timeframe and the hackathon starts, don't change it. The deadline should be kept.
4. Prepare the room
The place you will be spending the time should be equipped in the way that people won't need to leave it (drinks, snacks, extension cords, coffee, flipcharts) - yeah I know, sounds a bit creepy but if you want people to really focus on their tasks you need to avoid any distractions and have a friendly environment for them to fully concentrate on their tasks.
The most important part of every hackathon is for people to enjoy themselves while delivering. So make sure that people know they work on the same goal and don't feel the unhealthy pressure that will make their results worse. When working in a positive environment, we are always more effective because our brains are better rested and creative thinking comes easier to us.
Hackathons can serve different purposes, here are just a couple of examples how they can help you:
- team events
- building MVPs
- solving specific problems
- assessing people's skills (recruitment processes)
- community events (marketing, helping non-profit organizations, learning new technologies or skills, meetups)
- introducing new tools/processes to your business
Hackathons are an amazing tool that you should definitely implement to your business and enjoy the benefits. And if you are still not sure how to use it to your advantage - let us know and we will help you do that :)