Top Tip: How to hold a hackathon | Chris Jones | Skillshare

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Top Tip: How to hold a hackathon

teacher avatar Chris Jones, Arty, farty and a tad crafty....

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

5 Lessons (20m)
    • 1. Introduction:

    • 2. Module 1: what is a hackathon

    • 3. Module 2: how to do it

    • 4. Module 3: pros and cons

    • 5. Wrap up & project:

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About This Class

Do you or your business need an input of creativity and innovation?  How about giving your staff a boost by encouraging them to share their ideas?  A hackathon does just that - in this course, you will learn ho to create one from start to finish.

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Chris Jones

Arty, farty and a tad crafty....


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1. Introduction:: Hi, and welcome to this short course on how to hold a hackathon and why you should. It will cover things like what is a hackathon? And basically it's just a merger of two words, which is a hack technical term, and a marathon, which is just a timed event. The idea is that it's a bit like a hot house for ideas and innovation. It came from the tech industry originally. But now it's basically utilized across any business practice at all. Where you have a, an issue or problem or project, or you're in need of a solution. The idea is that anybody and everybody should be able to take part, because a fresh pair of eyes could actually come up with a solution that you would never think of because you yourself might be too close to that issue to actually come up with something innovative, creative, different. It's usually a timed event. It's usually a mix of teams and there's usually some kind of judging panel at the end of it. But the idea is, think of it as a competition. Um, but across this very short course, you're going to kind of go through what one is the top tips on how to hold one and then some potential pitfalls and things to look out for and then how you pull it altogether towards the day. Okay, so have fun. 2. Module 1: what is a hackathon: So what is a hackathon? I think the best way to describe it is basically an ideas hothouse. The idea is that you put a, an event in place and add some restrictions to it. Brief, some teams, just let them go crazy. The idea is it's a safe space for people to come up with those outlandish and no holds barred solutions is the epitome I think anyway, of things like blue-sky thinking or thinking outside the box. What you're trying to do is put as few restrictions around it as possible whilst still hoping that you're going to end up with some usable solutions. It's a chance to kind of mind the creativity of your business. So the idea is when you invite teams to it, you get a good mix from across the business. So that you get people from say, finance, working on tech problems. You get people from hate char working on engineering problems because they will come to it with their own potentially lack of knowledge, but they will have their own viewpoint that will have their own ideas that may or may not work. And that's what you're looking for, that nice mix. It's also an opportunity for your teams to showcase their talent. Because if you're doing it with a judging panel at the end and presentation of some sort. Then the idea is that the, the, the great and the good within your business. The CEOs, the exec directors, the directors, the heads of department, whoever's taking part in that judging panel, will actually be able to see the showcase of all of that talent, all of that creativity and innovation that you have within your business. So one of the major restrictions that you add to something like a hackathon is that it's a time-bound event and whether that is a three hours event in the afternoon, whether it's a full day, whether it's three days, some of these things go on for a week. It's up to you. You set that as a as a restriction. Um, and it's made up of kind of recruited and invited teams. So again, it's up to you how you do that recruitment, whether you go into the business and you just ask for anybody and everybody to come. And the idea is that you don't really refuse anybody. And that's up to you again. And then each team works together to fulfill a brief. And that brief is set by a business need. So you as potentially the facilitator or the organizer will have a hand in creating that brief. But the idea is to make it as real world as possible. Because the payoff or the reward, if you like, at the end of this, is potentially seeing their solution put into practice. The aim is to provide a creative solution to a real life task or project or issue. So again, it may be that you actually hold these a couple of times a year. You may have a whole library or armory of these kind of projects or tasks that need looking at. And once you've got a few The successfully under your belt, chances are the business is going to buy into them a lot more. So you may see that you have more and more of an audience. You may see that you have more and more call for people to be judges. And on that panel, you may have more members wanting to be part of the team. You may have people coming forward with more projects that they want solutions for. The more successful you can be at the outset that the bigger this kind of builds into. And again, the payoff for people taking part and for you as well is that this can be seen by senior staff, receives feedback in real time, it's in the day. So if if you're doing a day-long one for example, or an afternoon one, they're not waiting around for weeks to get any feedback on something like they've sent to somebody in some of this somewhere. It actually happened there. And then one big thing is that for you as the potential organizer of this is, is it's a way for you to show off your facilitation skills and your organization skills as well. So it builds your CV. It's a huge networking opportunity for everybody involved. Everybody from the, you know, the great and the good, the CEO down. Especially if they are potentially quite aloof or behind a closed door most of the time, if you can get those kind of people involved, then it actually makes them human, makes them more friendly and approachable. And if that is potentially an issue, this is one way of getting them involved in this. And a way of getting them interested too, because you know, that they're going to be interested in business improvement. And it should also be seen as a chance for your senior team to get involved and stay connected with the shop floor, with the people who are actually doing the work. So again, don't be shy away from kind of approach in your directors or your exact your heads, the department, that kind of thing. But also try and make it a cross generational event. So when we're talking about you're judging panel or your teams, try and make sure it's showcases the best that all ages have to offer them because this is one chance for you to be able to do that truly, because you're looking for experience and knowledge and luck come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. The other thing around your judges as well is try and have a couple of people on there who are very hands-on because you want that practical aspect to. So you don't just want it to be a panel of kind of higher-up managerial posts. You need it potentially. Look for somebody who's closer to the project so that they can give some practical feedback on it about why it will or won't work. And making guide potentially the judging panel who may go off on a tangent and think something's wonderful, but it actually has no practical applications or the jabs to actually work. 3. Module 2: how to do it: So let's move on to Module 2, which is all about how you host a hackathon. The first thing you need to decide is what is your aim? I would suggest that you go out to your business, to your contacts and find out what projects or tasks are available at the moment, what business improvements could they possibly be obeyed? And that you could actually adopt them for your hackathon and come back to them with some solutions and get them to form part of your judging panel. And this part is vital because it feeds into so many of the other restrictions that you need to think about going forward. So once you've agreed on what your project or task is, you can then get down to some of the nitty-gritty detail. So things like when is it going to be held and where is it going to be held and who is coming. So when you think about who is coming, that can actually impact on things like where it's going to be held, because that's going to impact the size of the venue you choose. So how many teams do you think would need to take part in this task to make it worthwhile. And that around the teams can actually impact on when it's held. So are their business days that you need to avoid because you may not have a large enough attendee list, that kind of thing, that there's an awful lot that you need to consider around this. So once you've decided on your project or task, then start thinking about that level of detail that you need here. When, where, who, and then also who is taking part on how. So that isn't about your teams. That's about things that you're judging panel. Or whether or not you're going to have an audience and what business support you need. So when I mentioned earlier about you're judging panel potentially having some quite hands-on practical aspect to it as well. You need that, but also you need to think about things like if you have like a customer contact center for example, you don't want to exclude any members of that team taking part and being part of this because they have a lot of valuable information for you. Um, but what's the impact on your customer service level? And if you take two or three members of that team to take part in a hackathon for a day. What impact does it have on your call rate? That kind of stuff needs to be thought about. Big one here that sometimes gets forgotten is that you as the kind of organize and need to do your homework. You need to research around this subject so that you can answer any questions that might pop up. You may not be the person who owns this task or this project because it's been suggested to you by the business. But you need to kind of instill a level of confidence in new to be able to answer those questions on the day and not have to get back to them and eat into their valuable time. And this also kind of feeds into your briefing so that if you give a good briefing at the very start, there's going to be less questions later on. Also plan your day. You want it to be an enjoyable experience for everybody involved, which means making sure that they understand things like breaks and lunches, what supports available, what resources they can use, and whether or not there would be something like an audience around some people may not be comfortable without. The other thing to think about is as the organizer, you are potentially the face of this event and the facilitator of this event. So how are you going to make it fun? How are you going to get a good atmosphere in that room? Is it through things like, do, do you have music hurrying? Do you encourage them to work together in one large room? Are they working in separate rooms? How do you kind of GI things up so that it's actually quite an exciting and engaging event. So the final piece of this jigsaw is all around the presentation back and kind of the judging and picking a winner. So first of all, who is on your judging panel? Is it one person? Is it a panel? Is several people from various different levels within the business. Are they close to your project? Are they far removed? Because that can have a great impact? Because they see it with a non-critical I what brief did you give the teams around the presentation. So at the very start, if you're briefing them and stating that there is going to be a presentation, it's going to be this kind of thing. We're looking for this, give them as much detail as possible at the start. Then they can almost start with the end in mind so they can work backwards from, we have to give a presentation of our final solution. And this is how we feed it in as we work our way through sourcing our solution. And who's going to take part in the presentation of what particle into play. Encouraged them to remember the presentation while they're working, because that is one of the things that you need to do throughout the day, throughout the event is just remind them that that does come up because people can get bogged down in the details of the solution. And then suddenly rushed through the presentation and they're great idea gets lost because of a lousy presentation. 4. Module 3: pros and cons: So now let's look at some of the practicalities and some of the pitfalls around a hackathon. So think about this. If you have an all day event that is going to have an impact on the resources within the business, the manpower that people available, the teams, kind of efficiency. So bear that in mind and try and give them as much notice as possible so that your event is successful and wide-ranging as possible. How many teams will take part, and this impacts on your recruitment process. So obviously people were better in Teams. So this isn't an individual event. So what kind of Teams are you looking for rather than people? Will actually, are you going to allow people to register as teams? Or are you going to encourage them to register as individuals and allocate them to Teams? And where does it all take place? So the point above around teams actually impact on this because your venue size will depend on the number of people taking part. Again, think about what is your brief how is your briefing taking place? What does it need to include? Do your research and make sure it isn't being worked on elsewhere in the business as you don't want to duplicate work. Is the option of creating a viable working solution possible? Because again, the payoff for this, the reward for this code well be that they see their solution being put into practice and see the business improvement. And do you have the remit to put this into practice? So it's great having this event, but if you don't have the backing from the great and the good within your business. So the CEO down, then chances are it's not going to get adopted and it's not going to get implemented, which makes it a little bit of a redundant event. The other thing to consider is, is this an open or closed door event? So something like an open-door event, for example, could have a rotating audience throughout the timeline that you've got. That can kinda come in and help with the atmosphere that I mentioned before. A closed-door event can actually heighten your competitive edge because they are almost in that enclosed greenhouse space with no outside influences, know outside encouragement. And they are just competing against each other within almost a locked room. Who your judges. And don't just go for the hierarchy, make sure that you mix it up and have some practical hands-on judges there too, because you want that level of expertise and experience. And a major one to consider is what is your judging criteria? So what are the judge is looking for? An S usually comes from your brief as well. So if you say your brief, well, you can usually pick out exactly what you're looking for, what the judges might be looking for. And, and finally, do you own award? A prize? Is, is there something else other than the solution being put into practice or being discussed and potentially being put into practice. Is there something that you can offer them? That's a little bit of a carrot and state type event, is that, you know, that you could give them something like a day off. Is their cash reward, is there a voucher reward? Or is it just that you are stating that this is going to be put into effect. This is going to actually benefit the business and be part of our continuous improvement. 5. Wrap up & project:: Right, So you've completed the course. I told you it was shot in there. So the idea now is how do you pull it altogether? So if you follow some of the tips that I've got in there and kind of adapt them to your personal circumstances, whether that's work or as an independent facilitator. You can't go wrong really is quite simple. And if you keep it as simple as possible, then there is less to break, there is less to go wrong. It will never all go to plan. It never does. But with something like this, because it is quite loose, shall we say it's not quite as rigid and strict as some events. There are ways that you can pull it back together. You do need good facilitation skills. It has to be sad because you are the person that is going to keep that app atmosphere going throughout the day. So once you've sat the brief and you've said everybody off working and they know the restrictions, they know the time limit, and they know the presentation that's coming up at the end of that. It's kinda out of your hands as to how they do it and what they do. But the facilitator, you're there to make sure that they are on the right track, that they are working. That there's kind of no major conflict of interest here we say, or personality clashes, that kind of thing within Teams. So you are as tiering is, as it is. You will be on, you will be onstage, you'll be in character as the facilitator the whole time. But going around, making sure that everybody is okay, that they know what they're doing. And that almost acting as a bit of a sounding board. But without giving an opinion, the idea is that you are not there to kind of guide that. You're there to simply say that they are kind of working well, that this is the time, It's that kind of stuff. The other thing to remember, I think for me as well is that as the organizer or facilitator, it's also your day. So it's a chance for the business to see you in action and see kind of what you're capable of and how you can be of benefit to the business, which is a big thing I think. Ultimately, almost to try and take a step back if you can, when it comes to the end of the day because the presentations and the judging, your there to kind of smooth things over, uh, make things, make sure things go smoothly, but it's not about you. It's about whoever ultimately wins this. So good luck. What I would like you to do as a bit of a project for me is in the discussion forums, is add in what you think would be a good topic for a hackathon and potentially how you would design it. So what I would like to see as much or as little level of detail as you'd like in whatever format you want. And I will pop in some pages that you can download and scribble all over. But things like how many teams, what kind of venue would you would you have? Would it be open or closed? Who would you judging panel consist of? So think about it from your personal point of view, from your business point of view, your business perspective. What would be the kind of subject or brief that you would give teams judging panel potential prices. That's what I wanted to say as a rough draft of what your hackathon might look like. Okay, thank you.