Essential Tool for AI Transition: Hackdays

Essential Tool for AI Transition: HackdaysEssential Tool for AI Transition: Hackdays

A hackday is a day where everybody is allowed to freely experiment with the goal of coming up with new and innovative ways of improving. Topics can be very broad – technologies, tools, methodologies, processes, business features, etc. As such, not only developers but all types of profiles, such as testers, analysts and managers are encouraged to participate.

Organizing hackdays periodically is even more important today, as AI is disrupting the business world, and there are many opportunities to explore and prototype to ensure your organization remains competitive.

Hackday VS Hackathon

You might have heard already about hackathons, such as the ones organized by Facebook or LinkedIn. As the word suggests, it's a competition-based hacking marathon that typically lasts a no-sleeping 24 hours, is open to the public with a big prize for the winning team. This allows these companies to spot top talents and potentially hire them, in addition to the benefits it brings in terms of creativity, ideas, etc.

However in this case, we'll be talking about hackdays as an internal event that lasts a working day instead of 24 hours and isn't about competing and rushing to the finish line but instead to take the necessary time to conduct proper research, learn, exchange with colleagues, and come up with valuable ideas and creations.

Hackday Guidelines


Only one rule: you can't work on what you normally do.

  • Clear Objectives: Define clear objectives and goals for the hackday. What do you want to achieve? Whether it's generating new product ideas, improving internal processes, or fostering team collaboration, clarity on objectives will guide planning and execution.
  • Theme Selection: Choose a theme or focus for the hackday that aligns with your organizational goals and interests. This could be centered around a specific technology, business challenge, or customer need.
  • Cross-Functional Teams: Form diverse teams comprising members from different departments, roles, and skill sets. Encourage collaboration and diversity of thought to spark creativity and innovation.
  • Preparation and Planning: Allocate sufficient time for planning and preparation leading up to the hackday. This includes securing necessary resources, communicating expectations to participants, and organizing logistics such as venue, equipment, and catering.
  • Clear Guidelines and Rules: Establish clear guidelines and rules for the hackday, including timelines, project scope, and judging criteria. Ensure that participants understand expectations and have access to necessary support throughout the event.
  • Support and Resources: Provide participants with access to relevant tools, technologies, and resources needed to execute their ideas effectively. Offer technical support, mentorship, and guidance as needed to facilitate progress.
  • Celebration of Innovation: Celebrate innovation and creativity throughout the hackday. Recognize and reward teams for their efforts, whether through prizes, awards, or public acknowledgment.
  • Demo Sessions: Schedule demo sessions at the end of the hackday where teams can showcase their projects and accomplishments. Encourage feedback and discussion to foster learning and improvement.

Make It Fun

A hackday is no ordinary working day, so it's the perfect opportunity to turn it into an original and fun event. Here are a few ideas to get everyone fired up:

  • Prizes and Awards: Offer prizes or awards for various categories such as Best Design, Most Innovative Idea, or Best Use of Technology. This can motivate participants to put in their best effort and add an element of friendly competition.
  • Food and Refreshments: Keep participants fueled and energized with plenty of snacks, drinks, and meals throughout the day. Pizza is always a crowd-pleaser, but you can also offer a variety of options to cater to different dietary preferences.
  • Workshops and Demos: Schedule short workshops or demos on relevant topics to provide participants with new skills and knowledge that they can apply to their projects.
  • Guest Speakers: Invite guest speakers from the industry to share their experiences, insights, and tips. This can be both inspirational and educational for participants.
  • Music and Entertainment: Create a lively atmosphere with background music or live entertainment. You could also consider hosting a mini-concert or talent show during breaks.
  • Social Media Engagement: Encourage participants to share their experiences, progress, and final projects on social media using a designated hashtag. This can help generate excitement and buzz around the event.

Business Benefits

There are many business benefits to hosting a hackday:

  • Inovation Catalyst: Hackdays provide a structured environment for employees to explore new ideas, experiment with emerging technologies, and prototype innovative solutions. This can lead to the development of new products, features, or processes that drive business growth and competitiveness.
  • Employee Engagement and Morale: Engaging employees in hackdays demonstrates that their creativity and input are valued by the organization. It fosters a culture of innovation, collaboration, and continuous learning, which can boost morale and job satisfaction.
  • Cross-Departmental Collaboration: Hackdays bring together employees from different departments, roles, and skill sets to work towards a common goal. This promotes cross-functional collaboration, knowledge sharing, and networking, breaking down silos within the organization.
  • Skill Development: Hackdays offer opportunities for employees to expand their skill sets, learn new technologies, and sharpen their problem-solving abilities. This investment in employee development can enhance individual performance and contribute to the overall talent pool of the organization.
  • Productivity Boost: While hackdays may seem like a break from routine work, they often result in tangible outcomes that benefit the business. Employees are motivated to work efficiently and creatively within the time constraints of the event, leading to productive outputs such as prototypes, proofs of concept, or process improvements.
  • Recruitment and Retention: Hackdays can serve as a powerful recruitment tool by showcasing the organization's commitment to innovation and providing prospective employees with a glimpse into its culture and work environment. Additionally, offering employees opportunities for creative expression and professional growth through hackdays can help attract and retain top talent.
  • Customer-Centric Solutions: Hackdays provide a platform for employees to brainstorm and develop solutions that directly address customer needs and pain points. By involving employees in the ideation and prototyping process, organizations can ensure that their products and services are more aligned with customer expectations.
  • Market Differentiation: Innovative ideas and solutions generated during hackdays can give the organization a competitive edge in the market. By continuously experimenting and staying ahead of trends, the organization can differentiate itself from competitors and position itself as a leader in its industry.
  • Cost-Effective R&D: Hackdays offer a low-risk, cost-effective way for organizations to conduct research and development activities. Instead of investing significant resources into long-term projects with uncertain outcomes, organizations can test ideas quickly and iteratively during hackdays, minimizing the financial risk associated with innovation.
  • Brand Building and Thought Leadership: Publicizing the outcomes of hackdays through internal communications, social media, or industry events can enhance the organization's brand image and establish it as a thought leader in its field. By showcasing its commitment to innovation and collaboration, the organization can attract positive attention from customers, partners, and stakeholders.


The benefits of organizing a hackday are numerous, and it's an excellent tool for creating and maintaining a high-performance organization.

At a time when AI is disrupting the business world, Hackday is an essential tool in your arsenal as a software leader as you transition your company into the new era of software.