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What is a Hackathon?

If you work in innovation, you have probably heard a new buzzword: Hackathon

But what is it exactly and how can innovators use them?

Hackathon is a meeting, workshop or round table where people from diverse backgrounds come together to generate new ideas and solutions. It’s fun, interactive and non-stop, normally over a single weekend. A solution is typically developed from scratch during this time.

A Hackathon can be done with or without digital support. In its simplest form, it is hashing out an idea over coffee. The important thing is to establish an open, inclusive setting where ideas can be safely shared.

The goal is to learn, iterate and build momentum. Normally, the topic relates to applying innovation to complex issues.

When it goes well, it can lead to transformational change and accelerated innovation.

For example in Silicon Valley in California, I joined participants from academia, industry and the startup sector. This includes students from Stanford or Berkeley, directors of Google and Intel and startup founders.

In Europe, a Hackathon organized by the Crown Heirs of Norway, Haakon and Mette-Marit, took place discussing power, world issues and education.  The book “Meditations” by Emperor Marco Aurelio acted as the theme. Participants included actors, journalists and businessmen.

To spread the word and gain traction through social media, create a hashtag with the name of the Hackathon and host city.

And remember, hackathons are no longer just for coders. Companies everywhere use hackathons to stir up new ideas from cultural transformation to supply chain management.

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash.