Here Are 10 Things I Learned From Running An Organizational Hackathon

I ran a day hackathon. I put it on my yearly goals as a challenge, and I did it. This is what I learned:

  1. There is no such thing as an organizational hackathon, from my research. We hear talk about workhacks, indeed about hacking this, that and the other. But there is not much of a structured approach to day hacking how an organization addresses an organizational issue. We are not coders, there is nothing for us to strip bare and rebuild, live.
  2. Bringing together accountants, IT, comms, Admin, and various depts. to discuss a topic that no-one has experience in is a nerve-wracking experience (for me). Yet, when asked, no-one expressed nerves. They had signed up to challenge themselves. They were leaning in!
  3. It rekindled me again the pleasant surprise from others’ optimism and determination to do good work. And, that I should not be surprised by it – I should expect it. I work with clever people.
  4. The internet is a beautiful thing. Discussing a topic like the Internet of Things (IoT) and expecting teams to deliver a business idea 5 hours later illustrates the power of the internet to provide – research, ideas, products, predictions, framing, graphics…the machines are our friends (for now!)
  5. There are no new ideas. “The future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed,” said William Gibson. A future gazing process allows us to see many futures together, standing side by side. That alignment, perhaps fleeting, create a power of organizational glue.
  6. The hack allows the freedom to imagine, as do children. It reawakens a little something in the corporate worker. That is a good thing. Ignoring reality is a healthy avoidance of black hat thinking. It brings back a slice of joy, otherwise crushed by years in the corporate machine.
  7. We encouraged cognitive leaps. Let’s assume some technology will be available to apply our idea to. Excellent. It allows us to move to “Yes, and…” from “Yes, but…” It lead to teams joining up their thinking to other teams’ thinking. There were no wrong answers.
  8. We were able to leverage what we already knew into a new context, a new circumstance. We work 200+ days a year, how often do we take that break to think laterally? The curse of BUSY! is that we don’t create space for new imagining. We double down on the processes and ideas we already have (inherited). But not today…IMG_0157
  9. We discussed fabric sensors, drones, sonar, balloons, remote controls, command centes, weather programming, uberization, holograms, data coverage and lags, market systems, admin overload, 3D printing. None of us had a background in this – we just committed to learning.
  10. My interest in hacks has always been more about People than Product. This worked out. No new product will come from the event, but some people push, some forward momentum – yeah, I’ll make a claim for that. That is enough.

←This Much We Know.→

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