Innovation Hackathon

Boost collective creativity

Are you searching for ideas and solutions for challenges that involve entire departments, business units or even the entire company? Would you like to involve the creativity of as many employees as possible? Do you wish your staff were on the same wavelength and would work as one regarding innovation?

In all of these cases, an Innovation Hackathon can be your solution. The concept of a hackathon (also hack day, hackfest) came about in the software industry and constitutes a large scale event where a considerable number of developers work parallel in small groups on complex challenges. The same principle can be applied to events that have nothing to do with coding.

What is an Innovation Hackathon?

A hackathon for innovation offers the possibility to zoom in on central challenges for your company and to have a large number of employees work on innovative solutions. The number of participants can be quite large, from 50 to more than a 100. Working in small teams and employing our structured methods make sure that time is spent in a productive manner and that everyone keeps the goal in sight. The goal of the event is to create possible solutions in the form of “paper prototypes” that can later be developed even further and, ultimately, that can be implemented.

How does a Hackathon work?

A hackathon can be limited to a half or a full day, or it can last for several days. The participants work in small teams on the pre-defined challenges, always guided by methods of systematic creativity and innovation. During the course of the event, ideas will be generated for the challenges, which will then turn into possible solutions. At the end of the hackathon you can present the final concepts and get feedback and evaluation either from the participants or from a jury.

Benefits of a Hackathon

A hackathon offers a number of advantages:

  • You get new solutions for your challenges
  • The challenges will be promoted throughout large parts of the company
  • The solutions will be developed by your employees, creating a sense of Co-Ownership
  • Your employees learn and practice methods of systematic creativity and innovation
  • The hackathon facilitates networking and communication between different departments and business units
  • You can tap into the experience, intelligence and intuition of your employees to prioritize the solutions at the end of the workshop
  • A very large number of your employees can be included

Hackathons and workshops

Since there are similarities between an Innovation workshop and a Hackathon we would like to highlight some of the differences:

  • Number of participants: A large number of people can participate in a hackathon, while the number of participants in a workshop is limited to 12 per facilitator.
  • Complexity: For a hackathon to work, the topic and the challenges have to be defined precisely before the event.
  • Understanding of the problem: An Innovation workshop allows for a deeper understanding of the underlying problems before getting into the generation of ideas.
  • Methodical support: The small teams working on the challenges during an Innovation Hackathon will rely on careful instruction before each step in the process and prepared supporting materials (like toolcards with information on specific methods). The intimate atmosphere of an Innovation Workshop allows the facilitator to choose the methods most appropriate for each situation and guide as well as stimulate the team accordingly.
  • Idea evaluation: During a Hackathon, the small teams autonomously evaluate ideas, relying to a large degree on their intuition. In an Innovation Workshop, the facilitator can support the group in developing a more detailed understanding of the ideas, allowing participants to evaluate, prioritize and choose in a more deliberate manner.
  • Flexibility: A Hackathon closely follows a pre-defined agenda. During an Innovation Workshop the facilitator can instantaneously adjust the agenda according to unforeseen developments.


“We asked for a team from creaffective to support our event with 130 participants. Before the workshop sessions our contact person at creaffective offered us helpful guidance to get the necessary preparation done. The four Innovation Coaches led the participants through a creative process to get good, concrete results that could then be followed-up after the workshop.”

Claudia Römischer, Brand & Corporate Communication, Commerz Finanz GmbH