Last year, I interviewed Steve Boese, co-chair of the HR Technology Conference, on the topic of hackathons. A hackathon is an event during which participants collaborate, conceptualize and test new products or services. The event is usually followed with a presentation to a panel of decision makers.
When this event is done externally, the hackathon might be considered a competition of sorts, with the presentation being to a group of judges. However, hackathons can be done internally too. Facebook is known for having employee hackathons and LinkedIn held a non-technical hackathon last year.
The reason I wanted to bring up hackathons again is because I ran across a terrific guide from RallyTeam on “The Definitive Guide to Enterprise Hackathons.” The reason I liked it is because it paints a picture that any organization can hold a hackathon. It’s not a technology company thing. Or a startup thing.
In fact, while I was reading the guide, I was reminded of a company I worked for that did something conceptually similar. The management team was brought together to discuss the top challenges facing the organization. The topics were prioritized. Then the managers were placed into groups and asked to work on one of the problems. Our task was to research the topic, identify the challenges, and brainstorm viable solutions.
Then the teams met during an offsite meeting to present our issue and proposed solution. The group got to decide whether or not to move forward with our recommendation. It was like a hackathon that took place over a longer time frame.
But sometimes, having that longer time frame might be a disadvantage. Maybe having too much time to think about it leads to analysis paralysis and inaction. The hackathon environment might be exactly the adrenaline rush that the organization needs. Something to think about.
So if you’re organization is looking to jump start some new thinking, a hackathon might be the format to consider. The RallyTeam guide walks you through the process: from room logistics to marketing the event. And if you want to see a hackathon in action, the HR Technology Conference and Expo will be holding another hackathon event this year. The conference is October 4-7, 2016 in Chicago. HR Bartender readers can receive a $200 discount on registration using the code LAUBY16. Hope to see you there!
Image taken by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the HR Change & Transformation Conference in London, England