Delivering a Hackathon leadership session

What the Hack?

Think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Well you can, if they teach themselves. That’s what happens at an NKD culture hack.

How to turn around leadership behaviour in just two days!

Think people are set in their ways? Can’t teach an old leader new tricks? Well, maybe you can… if they teach themselves. This is the idea behind our Culture Hackathon.

The Science…

Neuroscience has proved our ability to rewire our brains. Carol Dweck has proved the value of a growth mindset in being able to reach our potential. CBT has helped hundreds of thousands of people to adopt more effective ‘self-talk’. Design-Thinking has enabled accelerated and unprecedented product development in the technology sector.

Which got us thinking; if people can teach themselves new tricks and a straightforward design-process can sky-rocket empathy, creativity and production, why can’t we ‘hack’ culture?

Well, It turns out we can.  And, the results of a Culture Hackathon are phenomenal.

What is a Culture Hackathon?

Our Culture Hackathon is like a regular hackathon, only, instead of hacking a product or a process, you are hacking human experiences. All you need is a specific challenge to work with.

In a regular hackathon, groups of skilled and creative people design and build a new product, working against the clock. It’s fuelled by innovation and customer need.

In our Culture Hackathons, people are shaping their organisation’s mindset and behaviour. At our Hackathon with Dublin Airport Authority , 80 leaders got together for two days to imagine and design ways to drive up engagement in their business.

A Hackathon works by following an immersive design-thinking process, which is completely scalable and flexible. We could do it for your board of 10, or we could do it with 120 of your managers, it has the ability to scale up and down to your organisation’s needs.

The design-thinking process is made up of 5 unique parts: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test.

This is what happened with our 80-strong group of leaders at Dublin Airport Authority:

  1. Empathise– this is where leaders understand their culture or engagement challenge through the eyes of their customers (in this case, their customers are their employees).
  2. Define– this is where leaders define their unique opportunity and reason for cracking it (something that results in a significant engagement shift for employees)
  3. Ideate– this is a supercharged brainstorm session with a competitive edge. Teams compete against each other and against the clock to come up with the best ideas to crack the challenge. They then pitch their ideas to each other and the winning one gets prototyped.
  4. Prototype– here, leaders shape the future! They collaborate in new teams to work up the winning ideas and how to make them stick… including some real-life success measures, ways to encourage commitment and iterative improvements – the works.
  5. Test– and then the rubber hits the road in real life, testing and iteratively evolving the new behavioural habits with their employees and teams.

What do you get from it?

In short: enthusiasm, confidence and momentum for positive cultural change.

Imagine the power of our 80 leaders all adopting the same new mindsets and habits and doing it with their own unique style and personality.

What we have seen at daa is that they now work better together and better with their teams. Hundreds more human connections are happening every week, which is felt by teams and customers alike.

In fact, the first six weeks after the Hackathon saw so much positive change that DAA decided to get the next 120 leaders hacking the next engagement challenge!

The Result?

The result of a leadership hackathon is likely to be higher employee engagement and all the customer and business benefits that engagement provides. But it depends what you’re hacking – it could be a customer opportunity and it doesn’t just have to be leaders involved. Mixed teams are phenomenal!

Fancy hacking a problem to supercharge results at break-neck speed? Get in touch, we’d love to show you how!