Hacktober

How our own speedboat ‘Hacktober’ became a success and what we learned

It all started with an idea – or maybe even a dream – more than a year ago. A dream of gathering 24 smart, crazy, curious and energetic people, and hack problems of the future. And like all other good dreams we began the adventure by buying the domain name Hacktober and never looked back. I’ll get back to the name later.

A few weeks and months passed by and we hadn’t done anything with the domain. We still haven’t. But what we decided to do after those month was to make a speedboat. A speedboat to experiment if the dream could come true.

It was about the same time Erik began one of his blog posts with: “You might have heard the term ‘speedboat’ when talking about innovation. These constructions are often seen as fast, fun, and flamboyant, with dedicated locations, lots of post-its and freedom, and a boheme-esque interior design.” We have experimented with a lot of small speedboats, but never a bigger one involving 24 people.

How to figure out what type of speedboat you are building

I became fond of the idea of hacking future problems, and took on the responsibility to figure out the type of speedboat we needed to test this idea – the big dream of Hacktober. First off, I picked Erik’s brain on what he imagine Hacktober should feel, look and taste like. That left me with a bit of a mixture:

  1. We need young talents and smart experienced people – all crazy and curious!
  2. We need 12 of each group in total 24 people, and we should be together for 24 hours
  3. We also need something fun. Maybe a beer called Hacktobeer (see what Erik did there?).

The name, Hacktober, is a fusion of hackathon and October. Meaning, that the timeframe was already set. It needed to be in October. With an idea of a feeling (crazy and curious), a look (24 people and 24 hours) and a taste (a beer called Hacktobeer) I was ready to form a hypothesis about my speedboat:

Hacktober

How to make the engine start and the speedboat run

Luckily, I have planned many different kind of events (both crazy, festive and boring ones) during my years at university. Moreover, I have an understanding of working agile, facilitating and using the concepts of ‘Training from the back of the room’. And luckily I have fantastic colleagues to help me hit play. So far so good. I was ready to set up the format of the 24 hours.

Working in sprints is a great way to get things done. Even in small sprint of only 2-3 hours you can get something going. Combined with the Four C’s you are in for a facilitators threat and hopefully a program for 24 inspiring and hacking hours. The program looked like this:

What we learned from taking the boat off shore

Noticed the three empty columns in my hypothesis? Those where left out on purpose. I wanted to keep you reading before you saw what made this speedboat a success. The biggest learning I had was about the group dynamics. Gathering young and experienced people was something I have never tried before.

The learning from it was clear though: Even with a wide diversity gap in different aspects people with an equally curious mindset and approach to problems can come up with great hacks to solve the problems of the future. The output from Hacktober is not yet ready to show. So, what the brilliant people came up with will have to wait.

Hacktober

If you can’t wait, listen to our podcast with the participants sharing in Danish what they have hacked on or subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll receive more information when time comes.

I should remember to mention, that we got a beer for the event. A Hacktobeer. Made by Frederiksberg Bryghus, with a small label on it saying: “Hacktobeer – #Hackthefuture”.

The term “speedboat” is a mental picture that is in contrast to a “supertanker”. A supertanker has steady pace, and is hard to turn. The direction is set, the range is long, and the inertia is high. In contrast hereto you have the speedboat: small, movable, but with short range and only a very small crew.

About the author: Puk Falkenberg

Puk acts as advisor and hands-on executer on change projects and organisational development activities.

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