Hackathons for Company Culture


I have been reading a lot about creating an innovative culture recently as part of my Innovation exploration.  This particular idea was highlighted on the new LinkedIn Influencers feature (check out my review of this awesome tool) where I stumbled upon an interesting approach that a start-up has taken to try and improve their company’s culture by leveraging the hackathon approach.

A hackathon is typically an event where a large number of people gather usually for about 24 hours and work to develop quick projects or ideas.  The goal is to create something concrete enough to be presented at the end of the hackathon but not necessarily a full fledged project.  The benefits include collective brainstorming, urgency and excitement about creating new ideas and improving team building in the process.

This company took the typical hackathon approach but applied it to their culture, a novel approach.  They generated a number of very unique ideas, straight from the employees, that could improve their workplace and with enough tangible ideas to give the HR team something to run with.  Some of the ideas included:

  • One team spent 16 hours interviewing colleagues about the culture, and distilled the results into overarching themes. They committed to producing a “living manual” in one month.
  • Two producers tackled the expense-reporting process to make it easier to use.
  • To help employees connect beyond their immediate team, they created an app called “Floc,” to set up simple events, like grabbing a coffee or lunch, for people who haven’t spent much time with each other before.
  • The company always has music playing in the office, and they built an app — called “Panishhh!” — so that anybody can quickly turn the music down if a client is coming in for a meeting

I think this is a really unique approach to developing ideas for creating or improving a culture but also something that could be applied to a number of functions. It is a great way to get HR, IT and employees together to come up with ideas that solve real employee pains but that could also be feasibly implemented.  It leverages a number of key Innovation principles around idea generation and networking.  Read more about the event here.


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