Do you remember those training sessions where you needed to spend two days seating and listening to the instructor? Then it was expected that right after you would utilize your new skills. Nobody knew what to do and in a couple of weeks, all the material has been forgotten.
The reason is that in standard training sessions people build knowledge. In hackathon people build skills. That is why you feel that you do not know what to do after a regular training session and you have a clear idea after the hackathon. You have new skills and you are ready to use them!
At the hackathon, every team is given a set of broad challenges. They need to come up with effective solutions. The solutions do not have to follow specific guidelines or align with existing code. There is no code review done by more senior people. There are only two rules: solutions must work, and they must use specific technologies.
We have seen solutions that we would never think about. We have been asked questions that made us think about non-standard ways to solve problems.
A well-organized hackathon gradually involves participants starting with simple challenges to warm up people. Then difficult challenges come. They push people to work in teams, share ideas, and try many approaches.
Send an email with an ebook at work to your team. In a few weeks ask how many people read it. We did this test. The maximum that we got was 20%. Most of the time it was exactly zero. To create a unified skillset company needs to spend time training its people. Otherwise is everyone is preoccupied with the regular work and has no time for other things.
Build a mindset
New technologies and business strategies need new approaches. Companies especially big enterprises are notoriously reluctant to change their ways. For that, the mindsets should be changed. They need to try new ways (not just read about them) and see the benefits that they can get.
As more and more people take the hackathon, they build the community. They share their experience with other people at the company. If the hackathon is well-designed participants should leave with the impression that the new technology or approach is easy to use. They will share that feeling across the company thus encouraging other people to use it.
Attachment to Company
Along with the salary and benefits, training is one of the most important qualities of a company for employees. They want to take training and expand their skills.
Look at our most popular hackathons. Most technologies taught are very expensive. They are new and there are not many people in the market who know them. Thus, they can ask for the highest rates; however, most of the time you do not need the whole team of experts. You can get one-two people with extensive experience and teach the rest using the hackathon. That saves you money and you can a team with unique knowledge.