During the month of September, members of the Cornerstone Agility team participated in an annual team building and strategy retreat where we worked with one another in person and planned for the future of our organization. To live our Core Value of Innovation, we decided to spice things up by facilitating an internal Hackathon with our team. And while yes, we are not an engineering team, I found that giving the team some freedom to build and prototype a solution from scratch were some of the most valuable collaboration experiences that we have had as a team.
As I reflected on the experience, I wanted to share a few takeaways that I think anyone managing teams could learn and apply from participating in a Hackathon.
1. When given the time and space to be creative, the team shines!
Our team brought a lot of incredible ideas to the table. These ideas were things that could have been brought forward a lot earlier, but without carving out the space for innovation, sometimes it may not feel appropriate or the right time to focus on new/different ideas. By creating dedicated time for innovation, the message becomes clear that creativity is welcomed and desired! Our goal now is to make the spirit of innovation (creative thinking and experimentation) part of our regular outcomes.
2. Working with people from other teams is extremely valuable.
Even in a smaller company, we still have groups of people that tend to work together more frequently than others. It was incredibly valuable to hear everyone’s voices and understand the way other people on the team think and deliver. Using a hackathon allowed us the opportunity to deliver value with people that we might not have engaged with frequently on customer delivery.
3. Innovation leads to high-impact business outcomes!
Innovation is not just about building a creative outlet and creating a good working culture. Creating time and space for innovation leads to tangible outcomes for the business. We were able to ideate on outcomes that previously had not been considered. We were also able to produce prototypes that would never have been realized if it weren’t for our Hackathon. Our innovation paired with sacred time and space allowed for unexpected growth and new outcomes that will motive us into the future!
4. So much can be accomplished in a short timebox.
We were able to identify, plan, and deliver high-impact outcomes in a matter of hours. Those same impacts might have taken weeks to get started if the time was not set aside through the Hackathon. With full dedicated focus and with a simple MVP in mind, we were able to break down the barriers that impact delivery in our normal day to day operations.
Call to Action
Whether you are an engineering team, a marketing team, or a team of leaders and managers, I strongly suggest you carve out the time for innovation, and a hackathon is a quick way to make this happen. Cornerstone Agility is happy to ideate ways to make it successful, including thinking through proper guardrails, facilitation strategies, and helping you define success along the way.
If you want any suggestions for how to facilitate, brand, and execute a hackathon with your team, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!