In March 2014, I hosted an internal Hackathon event at CT Lien Solutions. 22 technologist participated by forming 9 competitive teams that dedicated two 12 hour days to developing a working software solution to a CT Lien Solutions’ business problem. Entries were evaluated on technical innovation, technical achievement, and potential value generation. We had a winning team emerge (Che’ Smith, Chetan Vihite, and Sarah Althoff-Sams), but their winning idea will have to remain a secret on my public blog here. Sorry guys. If you happen to work for Wolters Kluwer, you can read more about the event here: internal blog. Just in summary, I would like to say that the event was a smashing success.
Here are some of my key takeaways:
1) Don’t let worry about Return On Investment deter you from exploring new technologies and how they might apply to your business.
2) If you have time constraints in your daily job that stand in your way of pursuing new technologies, try setting aside a couple days for a Hackathon event. Think of it as a training event from a time budgeting perspective.
3) A Hackathon is a great tool for improving technical employee engagement, improving development skills, and injecting some innovative technologies into the daily routine long after the official event is over.
4) A Hackathon event should be conducted separately from Innovation Tournaments that are more focused on discovering the right “What” and “Why” to build, and indeed a company’s normal innovation cycle should always be focused primarily on discovering the right “What” and “Why”. A Hackathon event is more about discovering new “Hows”, and some of those “Hows” might lead to investigating a new “What” and “Why”.
5) If you are in software development, and you are thinking that you would like to do an internal Hackathon event of your own. Do it! I cannot over emphasize the positive energy built by one of these events.
Finally, I would like to give a shout out to Paul DeCarlo at Microsoft, Devlin Liles at Improving Enterprises, PluralSight, Telerik, and Xamarin for their participation and support of our event.