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Why every team lead should be scheduling a hackathon

February 10, 2022

Hackathons are a great way for organizations to give employees an opportunity to get creative and shake up their day-to-day work life. Hackathons are a collaborative event where employees from various teams with various skill sets and levels of expertise come together to solve a hypothetical problem or build a new project they’re interested in. 

There are countless benefits to this process for employees and leadership alike. Whether a hackathon leads to a new product feature or prototype that’s applicable to the business or not, the benefits go far beyond the practical. 


Leadership benefits of hackathons 

  • Solutions before problems - We’re all constantly trying to be as efficient and productive as possible. This means that when we find processes that work well for our team, we tend to stick with them. Until something breaks. Then we’re left scrambling to create a patch or bandaid for the problem. Hackathons let us look at problems that don’t currently exist by tackling projects that aren’t currently being done. The presentations may never come to fruition, but the aspects of the idea can improve our daily workflow and even solve for future problems before they occur.  

  • Uncover new talent - Turnover rates continue to be sky-high in the tech industry, which leads to openings across countless teams. Hackathons provide opportunities for leaders to identify additional employee skill sets. Hackathons can also reveal areas of passion for those contributors, which can create new project opportunities in the future.

  • Soft skills - Hackathons provide an opportunity for individual contributors to strengthen soft skills like leadership, mentoring and communication. They offer risk-free situations where teamwork is encouraged, building interpersonal communication skills. Speaking of teamwork…

  • Culture - We’ve shared this fact in a few articles now, but you don’t build culture through social events. You build it by creating cross-team projects, giving your employees an opportunity to bond through shared tasks. Hackathons change up routines, allow for members from different teams to connect with each other in unique ways and lay the foundation for potential future project teams. 

  • Cross-team appreciation - Working on hackathons with employees from different teams doesn’t just build healthy culture and communication. It also provides a look into how other teams accomplish their work. It creates moments of clarity where everyone can better appreciate timelines and processes for completing tasks. This builds healthier and more realistic expectations for all team members.

Hackathons are great for your engineering and development teams but their benefits reach beyond that. Marketers can get involved to brainstorm marketplace problems the team can solve. Quality Assurance Specialists can highlight recurring issues they come across. Finance team members can create potential budgets for the new ideas. And everyone can learn something new while trying their hand at a part of the business they may never have otherwise had the opportunity to connect with.