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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Joe Kraus On Hackothons!!

Joe Kraus writes,
Startups have many disadvantages over established companies
- typically fewer people, fewer customers and a whole lot less money. They are supposed to have two advantages - speed and innovation. But, do most startups really have either of those?
As the company is short staffed and the company is trying to get customers in as many ways as possible that it's very easy to squeeze innovation out of the system and instead get focused exclusively on customer-driven development. You go from a company with a lot of great ideas and big visions, to a company with a year-long roadmap and no real sense of "I-came-up-with-this-great-idea-which-I-built-over-the-weekend-and-look-how-cool-it-is". Innovation can, in reality, get quickly lost in a start up - especially once that startup is launched.
At Jotspot, Joe writes about an event called "hackathon" - a day long event (at whatever frequency you want) where everyone works on something that is:
• valuable to the company
• but not what they're "supposed" to be working on and
• that can be taken from idea to working prototype in one day
Joe writes that the first hackathon held recently brought amazing results. It's unbelievable what can get done in a day with a focused, motivated and creative team. When you give people the time to do the thing that always seems "just out of reach" people's creativity cracks wide open. Check out the specific results here. Making an event out of it added enthusiasm, anticipation and stupid antics that make this kind of thing fun (air-horns, stupid hats, lots of pez, etc.Joe writes the next step in hackathon's aren't only a great way to stoke innovation further but to also tie in customers and community.No doubt, organised properly, offsite meetings and timeouts are great sources to invigorate, think through new ideas, look at things out-of-box, besides encouraging bonding and cohesion. For startups this is a great way to improve things dramatically!

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