This week marked Name.com’s annual internal all-company hackathon, which consisted of three whirlwind days of creating projects that could benefit our customers, business model, and internal operations. Projects ranged from a domain price comparison website to a device that wirelessly communicates with our office kegs—but all of the ideas involved teamwork, innovation, and a sense of humor.
If you haven’t hosted a hackathon for your company, but are interested in having one, we highly encourage you to give it a try. Here’s a few things you should (and shouldn’t) do while hosting your company’s internal hackathons.
Choose a theme that promotes creativity, but doesn’t stifle it
Themes can be fun and inject a healthy dose of personality into your hackathons each year. But the best themes are those that don’t restrict ideas. For many employees, hackathons are their chance to work on a guerrilla project that they might not have had the time or resources to work on during the rest of the year. If a theme is too specific, it can prevent employees from working the ideas that they’re truly passionate about if it doesn’t fit the mold.
Use competition to bring together employees, not divide them
The spirit of friendly competition during a hackathon makes it more exciting, but that sense of competitiveness should be used to bring people together, not drive them apart. Hackathon projects often combine people from different departments that may not normally have the chance to interact. Encourage groups to work together to create incredible projects, but avoid judging or having teams present in a way that brings down the other participants.
Remember that hackathons are meant to be fun
Even though the ideas that come out of hackathons can be valuable business assets, hackathons should be a fun experience for employees. Team members who are passionate about their projects, and enjoy the process of coming together, are more likely to be committed to producing quality work during the event and after. Approach your hackathon with a sense of humor and both you and your employees will come out with a more positive experience.
And at the end of the event, don’t let good ideas go to waste
You might not have flawless projects that are immediately ready to launch by the end of your hackathon, but they can be great jumping off points for future implementation. The best part about hackathons is that employees can see their ideas become part of the company’s assets and operations—and that’s a powerful experience. Employees want to know that they’re making a real, tangible contribution to their company. Letting hackathon ideas come to life is a great way to make them feel like they’re making a positive impact on the business.