A Hackathon With No Destination?


I work on 20Skaters, ThreeFortyNine, Ontario Startup Train and a few others. My vanity site is brydon.me.

An idea for a hackathon event I’m looking for some feedback on….

What’s liberating about kid’s games like Yamodo is the lack of fear of the blank page. You’re provided the beginnings of a sketch along with a made up word. You need to write the first line of it’s definition, add to the sketch and then pass it along to the next person. It’s broken telephone and crowd design on paper.

yamodoThe freedom comes when you stop worrying about the end destination. I don’t need to worry about the end, I can focus solely on this next step and let my team handle the rest. It’s what makes team sports great, it’s what makes great teams successful. You have faith that your teammates will handle the next step. If every move you made in a hockey game required that you fully understand how the remainder of the play will unfold, you’d be paralysed. Instead you focus fully on the sole task of chipping the puck off the boards, that’s it. You have faith your teammate receiving it will do what’s right.

Hockey and team sports clearly have strategy and planning, however, they’re far more practice based than centralized planning. It’s a team sport executed by individuals. It allows for massive creativity and discretion at the individual level.

Where is this ramble heading?

I’m considering testing out a hackathon event aimed at de-emphasizing centralized planning and project management. What could you do if you only had to worry about the next step? Put the emphasis on tinkering, small changes, push forward one step and only one step.

My initial thoughts. We seed each team with a codebase in the form of some templates, API’s, etc., possibly some project templates, wirefames, maybe even some customer interviews and there’s a high level goal laid out. The team has a set period of time to work together. When they’re completed, all project artifacts are handed off to another team. We run this way through multiple sets of teams.

After completion, there’s some sort of wrap up to prepare for a demo. Then we get everyone together for some drinks and see what we’ve built. I’m curious to hear your thoughts, interested, stupid, needs work??