"Hackathons" are cool. But who knows what they really are and how they work? This makes them ideal things for clueless managers to do poorly. But if we take a little time to understand their "why" and "how" they do represent a potentially useful organizational form that could have a positive impact on sclerotic, inertia bound institutions. For higher educational organizations they have special potential for moving beyond "we tried that 5 years ago" and "not invented here" and for making actual interdisciplinary teams actually effective and the experience of working on institutional problems inspiring instead of demoralizing.
This post from InnovationManagement.se is a good starting point because of how it manages to convey the essence of hackathoning outside the context of coding.
That essence is group process bound in space and time that focuses effort on well defined challenges in a short, structured design sprint. The elements are important:
- defined chalenge
- structured process.
Especially the last. Read more at InnovationManagement.se