reflecting back on the hackathon

#CAREhacktCORONA Hackathon

Five weeks into the Corona forced home office routine, I received a call from one of the coordinators of the hackathon, Tim Weinert (nowwork.de), asking me to join. It was refreshing and inspiring to hear about the #CAREhacktCORONA initiative. It did not take long to decide and jump into the challenge of “coaching the coaches” as Tim had described the role. What it would exactly involve still needed to evolve, and not having an exact plan of what would happen made it all the more exciting.

That was on Thursday evening, just over a week before the event was due to take place. On the weekend that followed there was time to research more about the event and the people involved. Over breakfast I came upon a podcast from Hendrik Epe with the title „Warum brauchen wir einen eigenen Hackathon für die Sozialwirtschaft, Ursel Wolfgramm?“ After listening closely to this, and picking out all the aspects which inspired me (which were then promptly #hashtagged and tweeted), it was clear that the  hackathon was going to be a very worthwhile and meaningful event.

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I was ready and keen to get started!

What motivated you? What were your expectations?

My personal motivation was to better understand what I could do to help others and provide a meaningful benefit at a time in which we were all trying to re-adjust to a new normal. My own job had changed overnight, and I was also learning how to take my usual face to face coaching and teaching into an online environment. I had made good progress and felt comfortable with an online approach and wanted to use this experience to the benefit of others on their own digitalisation journey.

Another aspect was a desire to do something with a meaningful, tangible purpose. The Corona pandemic had created a new focus for all of us. Now, while we were all impacted by the restrictions of the lockdown, it was time to focus on the people who needed our help the most. Prior to the hackathon I actually wrote a short blog to capture these thoughts and expectations – here is part of it:

“….as one coach in a team system that will emerge as we move through the week, I am looking forward to what we can achieve together. It provides a sense of purpose which will generate a dynamic that we will certainly reflect upon, long after the pandemic is over. My hope is that it will also show us a path to a more humanised workplace, in which we can all learn and collaborate in together, as we adapt to a post Corona world.”

How have these expectations been realised?

Picking up on the previous paragraph helps answer this for me.

“….as one coach in a team system that will emerge as we move through the week, I am looking forward to what we can achieve together.”

Outcome: Beyond expectations.

What emerged in preparation for and throughout the event was far more than I expected. In our own small team of coaches, I made new friends who share a common outlook on the need for positive social change – thanks again Lena, Georg and Christian for your openness and energy that accompanied our collaboration.

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“It provides a sense of purpose which will generate a dynamic that we will certainly reflect upon, long after the pandemic is over.”

Outcome: Absolutely.

The innovation and inspiration that emerged during the 24 hours of the hackathon remains with me to this day. I was humbled by the projects that were being initiated. Projects like “help for the terminally ill”, “support for homeless people”, “parents in need” and “voluntary worker engagement” to name just a few. These are projects that carry a clear purpose, a purpose that is often missing in everyday profit-oriented business life. Now, along with many others, I am working to redefine and grow a new-found purpose in my own working life thanks to this experience.

“My hope is that it will also show us a path to a more humanised workplace, that we can all learn and collaborate in together, as we adapt to a post Corona world.”

Outcome: Without a doubt.

I can still feel and see the impact the event has had and the change it continues to drive. Whether it be in progress reports on the ongoing hackathon projects themselves, or the social media feeds and follow-on social impact conversations that are being voiced. The event certainly had the intended effect of pressing the reset button on our understanding of what is truly system relevant today and into the future. It is now up to us to keep up the momentum and ensure that the good work that was initiated has the chance to flourish. 

What was special about the Hackathon?

After the event I blogged a longer list of observations, intended to remind me of all the good I had experienced over the event. Here are four of my favourite highlights:

1. People intrinsically want to make a positive impact.

2. A meaningful purpose provides orientation and creates momentum.

3. Despite physical distance, truly tangible social proximity can be realised.

4. Self-organisation increases autonomy, and the resulting sense of achievement.

As impulse for the live stream video that officially closed the hackathon, I had written the following three post-it notes:

#PEOPLE       #PASSION       #PURPOSE

These three words help frame my takeaway from the hackathon overall and capture what made it so special for me:

When #people with a common, meaningful #purpose come together, combined with a #passion for helping others, then #positive change will happen.

That was the closing call, the #CAREhacktCORONA story however is far from over.

Thanks to everyone involved for making this event a meaningful reality, as well as for the energy to carry it on into the future. Finally, thanks again for the opportunity to be part of it. Count me in for next time!

Best wishes to everyone, Glenn.

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