Hackathons, or hackfests, are getting a lot of buzz for being a collaborative, crowdsourced way of generating new product or service ideas. Sometimes they’re even touted for ideas that drive change and create a competitive advantage. But if that’s what you have in mind for a hackathon at your company, prepare for a letdown.
The buzz isn’t all hype. Entirely new companies (such as GroupMe, which was acquired by Skype) have been birthed from hackathons. And Facebook’s “like” button originated in an internal hackathon at Facebook. Some hackathons resulted in government entities capturing new ideas on how to improve government services. And an increasing number of companies find hackathons to be an effective strategy for improving employee engagement.