Hackathon? No, not yet. Ideas Splurge!

In many cases, the answer to “How do you organise a Hackathon?”

appears to be “You don’t. What you need is an Ideas Splurge.”

Giving away the punchline: In crude terms, an Ideas Splurge generates more well-thought-through ideas per person in less time. More people meet and talk in less time. It is more inclusive, and less off-putting to newbies. It can be arranged at shorter notice, and there is less to go wrong. It leaves folks wanting more, rather than, as with many hackathons, “well, I’m glad that’s over”. An Ideas Splurge is, fundamentally, more effective at tackling the disconnects between disparate groups within a company.

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The One Day Ideas Splurge

We have recently experimented with some dev-first approaches for some distinctly different scenarios

  • riffing on a specific theme; generating and exploring lots of ideas quickly
  • starting a tech-architecture-heavy project

and were very happy with the outcomes.

tl;dr The essence of both approaches is

  • get the core group sitting in the same room for a day (Co-location is great. Who knew?)
  • dump all possibly relevant information into the mix at the start
  • let the developers have a play
  • see what happens

What follows in this post is a more detailed look at the approach we took for …

Riffing on a specific theme; generating and exploring lots of ideas quickly

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Cut To The Chase – the prototype, trials, taxis, and tapas

Not only did we each get a nice warm hoodie for winning the Glasgow #newsHACK #EditorsLab hackathon event in May 2014, the FT team was offered a paid trip to the Global Editors Network #EditorsLab hackathon final in June, in Barcelona, along with the winners of all the other GEN #EditorsLab regional hackathons. So we went, and this is how we did and how we did it.

If the following is tl;dr, you can skip to the hack itself, or the slides of the presentation.
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