Tips and Tricks

July 5, 2017 By Raph DaCosta

Hacks: The New Brainstorm?

July 5, 2017

By Raph DaCosta

Read More from Raph DaCosta

July 5, 2017

Hacks: The New Brainstorm?

By Raph DaCosta
Social Media Specialist

Blank faces surrounding an equally blank sheet of paper – nothing suppresses ideas like stale meetings that try to force creativity. Despite the occasional awkwardness of a team’s lack of inspiration, brainstorming remains a staple of workplace culture. To help navigate some of this awkwardness we’re put together some tips and tricks to explore new ways of generating ideas and inspiring innovation including one of our favs hacks.

When most people think of hacking they imagine cyber criminals breaking into computers, but the term means more than just that. As far back as the 1960s, computer pioneers at MIT were talking about creative ideas as ‘hacks’. These could be anything from writing new software to playing with chopsticks in an imaginative way.

Hacking: brainstorming 2.0:

In 1999, the software developers behind the operating system OpenBSD decided to host an event in Calgary. They wanted to come together and work rapidly to hack together a solution to a problem they faced with exporting their software. This was the first known time the term “hackathon” was used – a event where the team would work collectively to hack an idea. From there the idea of hackathons exploded through tech companies.

All sorts of hackathons are commonplace now, they can be any kind of event where thoughts are shared and ideas are fused into software technologies and business ventures. Some are just a few hours long, while others span days and are more like creative slumber parties with sleeping bags and snacks.

Alongside often being more enjoyable than in-office brainstorming sessions, they’re also more convenient. Tools such as’s conference calling mean that businesses can hold hackathons online with participants around the globe. Plus, if your hack requires some back up data, the screen sharing function lets users see exactly what you’re working on.

The Ins and Outs of Hackathons:

Hackathons can be held either publicly or privately, each approach has its own benefits. Going public can connect developers with consumers so real bugs with software and systems can be tackled. And staying private can be better for driving competitiveness between teams and maintaining a razor sharp focus on identifying the challenges that deserve most attention. Time limits help too, since they prompt hackers to condense their work into something that can be applied, not just in theory, but immediately.

Does This Actually Work?

Yes! An increasing number of these actionable ideas are becoming successful projects. Apps like Easy Taxi: first thought up at Techstars Startup Weekend in 2011, it has now provided a service in over 420 cities worldwide. Even companies like Facebook flourish in the creative Hackathon environment, with key features such as the “Like” button, Messenger, Timeline and the ability to tag your friends in memes all generated from Hackathons over the years.

With technology disrupting the workplace at rapid pace, coming up with fresh ideas and strategies has never been more important. It’s crucial that all industries continue to innovate in order to stay ahead. Who knows, your hackathon might just discover the next Uber!