With busy work days and hectic schedules, sometimes it can be hard to make innovation a priority. A great way to overcome this and get the ball rolling on problem solving is to plan a hackathon, where everyone can have uninterrupted time dedicated purely to innovation. Using HunchBuzz to set specific challenges and organize all your new ideas will take your hackathon to the next level.
What is a hackathon?
The definition of “hacking” is creative problem solving, so a “hackathon” is an event that facilitates creative problem solving. It can involve as many people as you want, and last as long as you want. You can all choose to work together on one problem or separate into specialized teams of interest/skill. Some may focus on the tech side of things, some may focus on marketing and PR, etc. No matter how you choose to do it, everyone is working toward the same goal.
Why use HunchBuzz for your hackathon?
Instead of having to combine multiple forms of communication like slack, groupme, dropbox, google docs, etc., HunchBuzz allows you to see everyone’s ideas in one place. Using HunchBuzz for your hackathon means that brainstorming doesn’t just have to begin and end on the day of the hackathon. Participants can start creating ideas weeks before the hackathon takes place, giving innovation a healthy head start – and continuing after the hackathon is over.
Ideas have a much better chance of being implemented when challenges, ideas, and feedback are structured and quantified. Not only can participants see each other’s ideas and comments, hackathon leaders can see data collected in real time during the hackathon and beyond.
General tips for your hackathon
People that have never participated in a hackathon, may be a little uncomfortable and not know what to do. It may help to run a workshop prior to hackathon for newbies - help them set up their HunchBuzz profile and explain how the hackathon will run so they are prepared to dive in on the day of. Sometimes hackathons are run with a competitive structure and/or unrealistic expectations. It is important to set clear, realistic goals and foster a welcoming and positive atmosphere.
Before the event
Here are some basic steps for running a successful hackathon – and how to use HunchBuzz to make it even more productive:
- Define the challenges to be explored
- Make sure projects have a clear problem and are “solve-able”
- Make sure the problems can be reasonably explored in time allotted for the hackathon
- Choose a location, date, and start/end time
- Have plenty of seating
- Ensure fast and reliable WIFI, projector, screens etc.
- Breakout areas and whiteboards
- Invitation and registration
- Invite your participant with location, date and time details
- Provide an explanation of the event (many people have never heard of a hackathon before)
- Provide a link to set up HunchBuzz profile beforehand
- Briefly explain main topics (challenges to be solved)
- If running a team-based event:
- Identify project leaders or subject matter experts (SMEs)
- Help identify team specialization and projects
- Create project goals so teams stay on track
- Enlist event helpers
- Help with registration, directing people etc.
- Document event through photography, social media and video
Using HunchBuzz prior to the event
- Define the challenges to be worked on
- Invite users into HunchBuzz (if not using single sign-on)
- Encourage people to start creating and evaluating ideas before the event
Day of the event
- Welcoming and orientation
- Introduce organizers
- Explain purpose of event and state problem and goals for the hackathon
- Thoroughly explain how participants will use HunchBuzz to share their ideas (voting, liking, commenting, etc.)
- If separating into groups briefly explain each group’s focus on the problem- team leaders go more into depth after groups are separated
- Ensure a great energetic spirit with no pressure or competition involved!
- Time to brainstorm
- Make sure everyone is on track and has something to work on
- Try to limit distractions like scheduled breaks or required meetings- you don’t want to have to interrupt great brainstorming (let groups take breaks on their own throughout the day)
- Wrapping up
- Give people warnings about how much time is left
- When time is up, bring people back together to discuss progress
- Facilitator should round up best ideas (most liked) from each group and have HunchBuzz data on screen for participants to see
- Have each team briefly present their best ideas
After the event
Instead of ending up with a bunch of post-it notes and photos of whiteboards after the event, using HunchBuzz means you have a permanent record of the ideas generated AND the ability to continue discussion and evaluation long into the future – making innovation a regular part of work life rather than something that happens only at a point in time.