Hackathons are an institution at NewVoiceMedia. We hold them every 4 months, and they last from the pitches on Wednesday noon until show & tell at the end of the day on Friday. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, a hackathon is a creative time when technical people will come together for a very short period to work together. Armed with nothing other than a love of their craft they work to create something that excites them. They may be motivated by a version of one of these types of questions:
Is this idea I’ve had possible? Lets have a go and see if we can create a proof of concept.
This particular implementation annoys me every time I come across it. I am going to fix it, even if no one else thinks its worth the effort – its driving me mad!
A 3rd party has released a cool new tool that I want to explore (think Facebook bots here).
In the days leading up to each hackathon you can see quiet little gatherings in corners as people pitch ideas to each other. They are building themselves into self-selected teams for a project they will conceive. On “Hackathon Wednesday” lunchtime there are a last few final pitches. Anyone undecided which team they want to join have to finally make up their mind and commit. It is a really energized vibe, with people keen to get on with some fun stuff.
In the past during hackathons, Scrum Masters with a the technical background might join a team and indulge their technical sides for a couple of days. We found that non-technical Scrum Masters tended to use the time to catch up with their day jobs.
Frankly, this felt like a bit of a wasted opportunity. Plus, as a non-technical Scrum Master, I hate missing out on the fun!
So, recently at NewVoiceMedia we have been experimenting with non-technical projects for hackathons. One of these was last year’s guidebook for new starters at NewVoiceMedia. Its main purpose was to help convey some of our culture and personality to new starters. It was very well received, and is now part of our induction package given to new starters.
This time around we took it to a whole new level. I still can’t quite believe what 6 of us were able to achieve in just 2 and half days.
We wrote this book.
Its available free on leanpub, and we are all very proud of it.
My co-authors and I will be sharing different perspectives on the process on our individual blogs over the next week or so. I will add links to their articles at the bottom here too, as they are published.
Not only was this great fun, we are very excited about the result. We all feel we may have opened a doorway. Its important to us that we found a way for non-technical people to experience the hackathon spirit, even when we are not technical. More than this though, we learned from the experience of working together. As Scrum Masters, we rarely get the joy of contributing to a product in this way.
We were also acutely reminded that humans generally can do much more than they believe they can.
We’d love to hear what you think about our hackathon project.
Hackathon Is Not Just For Coders: 48 Hours To Write A Book – my guest post for the NewVoiceMedia blog