Yes and No!
A hackathon (also known as a hackfest or codefest) according to wikipedia is:
‘an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development and hardware development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects.’
More recently the approach has been extended to not only software challenges but to all sorts of other brand and business issues.
I have been involved in a few with mixed success.
Here are the pros:
– It’s fast, furious and fun
– The hackathon can involve and engage all staff
– It can build teamwork
– and generate lots of ideas
– Creates more of a startup feel to a big, established company
– The time-pressure pitch process also encourages employees and team leaders to be focused and quick on their feet in their presentations
– It’s also a practical and symbolic way for the leaders to place a greater focus on innovation, reinvention and disruption.
– And of course the hackathon might just lead to a major breakthrough
But there are some cons:
– The large number of ideas can be a problem because there is often no way of sorting or evaluating the ideas.
– There are often delays in submitting an idea and receiving any feedback which can lead to frustration
– Some employees feel that they are already over-worked and this creates even more stress.
– Sometimes there are lots of completely irrelevant ideas.
– The hackathon involves extra time, cost and energy with no guarantee of return.
– And lastly, does it have an long-lasting impact on an organisational culture?
So there it is.
My experience is that even allowing for these cons, a hackathon is a powerful way to build a more creative and innovative organisation.
And you will create lots of amazing new ideas and release the passion and energy of all employees along the way.