Every hackathon I've participated in has been a journey in itself. But there is one element that can make or break your experience.
At my first Hackathon experience I had the ideal team: Rachel who was a fresh graduate in Design from the University of Technology Sydney, Trent an 11 year old who came with a couple of friends and was super interested in code, and of course, yours truly. I got to be honest, we didn't have all the technical skills but we had a common interest: to create positive social change for the world.
When it comes to Hackathons, many people think the best idea will win. Yeh nah [Aussie slang for 'no']. There's more to it. Ideas are a gift, but execution is a priceless experience. Don't get me wrong, having an idea is a great starting point but often participants forget the importance of finding team members who have a common purpose, similar values and complimentary skillsets.
For me, innovation is more than an idea. It's a combination of having the right people, knowing the right problem to solve, and a unified passion to obsess over. The intersection of this will at least set you on the right track to deliver a tangible outcome by the end of the Hackathon.
This is why I created The Hacker Mindset, a one page template which will go through spotting the opportunity, building the goals to reach, and going forward as a team to deliver value to customers.
Thanks to the likes of Steve Lechowisz, Livia Lam, Craig Murphy, Rajesh Bahardwajand, Nic Kamols and others, this tool is now more important than ever before because we're going online. It's harder for people to communicate as a team, it's harder to read body language and emotions, it's harder to keep track of team members to see where they're at and what they need help with.
How can The Hacker Mindset one page template help your team?
It's practical. Once you've formed your team at the start of the Hackathon, sit together to define your purpose, why you are at the hackathon and what you want to get out of it. Follow the guidelines and sample to ensure that everyone is (literally) on the same page.
It'll bring leadership. In a real startup environment, the team structure is flat. At a Hackathon, nominate a Herder, someone who will direct the team to fulfil it's vision. This person is not the decision maker so everyone needs to take ownership and be an impact leaders.
It'll bring direction. Once the team has identified the opportunity, or innovation that are wanting to pursue, test your assumptions quickly because you don't want to start building something unless you know it'll solve a problem, the customer will use it, and it'll be commercially viable. Do your research. Quickly.
It's clear. In a short, pressurized time period, you don't have a lot of time! Set a SMART goal for the duration of the Hackathon, set milestones to achieve and make sure everyone is on track. By doing this together, you know exactly how everyone fits into the puzzle and you can go cohesively as a team to achieve it. Go get 'em!
It'll bring you success. People go to Hackathons for different reasons. Having these up front conversations will ensure that every single person gets what they want out of the Hackathon, or at least they've had a good go at it! Even conversations around IP, code of conduct are essential discussions to have so make sure you follow the template so that you and others around you can have a memorable, enjoyable and incredible experience!
During the covid-19 pandemic, we need to unite as one to support and encourage one another through this tough time. Hackathons as a great way to add new tools to the toolkit, build up and refine skills, create a bank of projects for your portfolio and connect with people around the world facing a common problem.
There's not a better time to participate in one today.
For a list of Hackathons to join click here: https://www.hackathonsinternational.com/
To download The Hacker Mindset one page template click here: https://bit.ly/TheHackerMindset
Angela Bee Chan