Working in a traditional office environment can be stifling. There are so many rules, policies, and procedures that employees have to follow. But when you surround yourself with the right people and give them enough time to explore ideas together, it can lead to breakthroughs. That’s what hackathons are all about. They provide opportunities for individuals or small groups of people to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems such as pressing social, environmental and even business problems with the use of technology. 

Hackathons help foster creativity by giving teams the freedom to experiment without fear of failure because there is no expectation that anything will be perfect or complete at the end of the allotted time frame. If you're looking for a way to inject some creativity into your company, then this is the blog post for you! 

Structure of a Hackathon

When you plan a hackathon, you should first set a predefined duration and structure so everyone who wants to join knows what to expect. 

Usually, teams work over a 24-hour period to create and showcase a solution. Then, the structure should clearly state a specific problem in your company, such as a way to apply emerging technology like AI, automated approval process or any pressing business need you have.

Most of the time, a simple problem statement with one or more solutions is used. It often acts as a challenging exercise to those who are less experienced in hackathons. Then, this simple problem is paired with an expert-leveled problem with no solutions available.

The next step is to help people how they will work together on the problems. You should consider whether they form a team before signing up or assign individual participants to the most appropriate team.

Based on the structure, you should set clear ground rules. For instance, there should be at least one coder or a team should only have four participants. 

Do Virtual Hackathons

Traditionally, hackathons are held in an area where people gather in person. However, with the pandemic, innovation should still persist during these uncertain times. So instead of stopping hackathons, you can maximize the use of technology by moving them online using various collaborative tools to bring the remote and virtual teams together.

Collaboration platforms can help collect artifacts, videos, and presentations of the accomplished works of each team during a hackathon.

Now, when you think about holding a global virtual hackathon, then you need to consider the differences in time zones of the people who’d like to join. What you can do is assign different remote managers around the world so they can do a hackathon across a 24-hour time span. What’s also great in going virtual is you get to accommodate more participants. Just make sure that your rules are clear, and the duration of each presentation is limited and equal.

Prepare All Your Resources

You need to provide all the necessary materials and resources that the participants have ahead of time. This is especially important when you have a lot of people coming from different time zones and doing the hackathon for the first time. These resources would allow them to make preparations and put them at ease.

An effective tool to use is a resource playbook. This will help the participants keep the on the right track by preventing them on duplicating projects and aligning their initiatives with the current corporate technology standards

Be Inclusive

The main goal of a hackathon is not just about brain dumping ideas but about encouraging people to be innovative and to share their knowledge within each group and with the different groups to expand and elevate everyone’s learnings and understanding. This is why participants should not always be coming from the experts or the more experienced ones but you must encourage first timers and less experienced entrants to join. 

Ideally, a hackathon should comprise multiple disciplines so the overall approach to innovation is well-rounded and more mature.

Do Post-Hackathon Activities

The exchange of brilliant ideas and artifacts in an online collaborative platform should be put to use. This means that you should capitalize on the work made in the hackathon. Although not all projects translate into world-changing solutions, the knowledge from those projects should not go to waste. Instead, you use them to fuel more innovation. Consider the best outcomes and convert it into a knowledge base to come up with something useful or powerful in the future.

When you look at the presentations, tools and techniques used by the participants, you’ll see patterns that can help refresh and improve your hackathon planning as well as the resources in the future events.

Empower Your Team Through Hackathons

Empower your team to think outside the box through a hackathon. This is where you can invite people to come up with creative solutions in a short amount of time! It gives them the opportunity to work on their own, or collaborate in small groups. With this many minds together, it's bound to create something new and innovative ideas that can change the way you think and do things in your company. is the largest online hackathon community worldwide, connecting over 2000 hackathon organizers with our 10 million+ member innovators around the world! If you’d like us to host and organize your company hackathon, visit our Corporate Services page.