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You Can Hack That: How to Use Hackathons to Solve Your Toughest Challenges

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“Hackathon” has become a trendy word in today’s business vernacular, and for good reason. The word “hackathon” comes from both “hack” and “marathon.” If you think of a “hack” as a creative solution and “marathon” as a continuous, often competitive event, you’re at the heart of what a hackathon is about. Hackathons enable creative problem solving through an innovative and often competitive structure that engages stakeholders to come up with unconventional solutions to pressing challenges. Hackathons can be used to develop new processes, products, ways of thinking, or ways of engaging stakeholders and partners, with benefits ranging from solving tough problems to broader cultural and organizational improvements.

This playbook was designed to make hackathons accessible to everyone. That means not only can all kinds of organizations benefit from hackathons, but that all kinds of employees inside those groups—executives, project managers, designers, or engineers—should participate and can benefit, too. Use this playbook as a reference and allow the best practices we outline to guide you in designing a hackathon structure that works for you and enables your organization to achieve its desired outcomes. Give yourself anywhere from six weeks to a few months to plan your hackathon, depending on the components, approach, number of participants, and desired outcomes.

Contact Director Brian MacCarthy at MacCarthy_Brian2@bah.com for more information about Booz Allen’s hackathon offering.


Published in: Technology
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You Can Hack That: How to Use Hackathons to Solve Your Toughest Challenges

  1. 1. HOW TO USE HACKATHONS TO SOLVE YOUR TOUGHEST PROBLEMS YOU CAN HACK THAT
  2. 2. “Hackathon” has become a trendy word in today’s business vernacular, and for good reason. The word “hackathon” comes from both “hack” and “marathon.” If you think of a “hack” as a creative solution and “marathon” as a continuous, often competitive event, you’re at the heart of what a hackathon is about. Hackathons enable creative problem solving through an innovative and often competitive structure that engages stakeholders to come up with unconventional solutions to pressing challenges. Hackathons can be used to develop new processes, products, ways of thinking, or ways of engaging stakeholders and partners, with benefits ranging from solving tough problems to broader cultural and organizational improvements. Booz Allen has been at the forefront of helping public and private sector clients design hackathons to achieve all these objectives and more. We also often run internal hackathons that engage our 22,000+ global technology and strategy consultants to solve difficult challenges, generate new ideas and even train existing staff in new capabilities. While our experience has shown there is no one-size-fits-all approach, we’ve found successful hackathons share many of the same characteristics and design themes. This guide is meant to summarize what we’ve learned and make hackathons as accessible and effective as possible for organizations of all shapes and sizes.
  3. 3. 1 CONTENTS SERIOUSLY, WHAT’S A HACKATHON?................................................................ 2 Definition Types Components Crowdsourcing ORGANIZATIONAL BENEFITS............................................................................. 3 There are big-picture ways that a hackathon can benefit your entire organization 12 HACKATHON BEST PRACTICES...................................................................... 4 PLANNING GUIDES............................................................................................11 A pre-planning hackathon checklist An operational planning checklist An example timeline for a 24-hour hackathon HACKATHON USE CASES...................................................................................16 One: Transportation Hackathon Two: Baseball Analytics Three: Hack the Sky FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.....................................................................20 A resource to reference back to as you read This playbook was designed to make hackathons accessible to everyone. That means not only can all kinds of organizations benefit from hackathons, but that all kinds of employees inside those groups—executives, project managers, designers, or engineers—should participate and can benefit, too. Use this playbook as a reference and allow the best practices we outline to guide you in designing a hackathon structure that works for you and enables your organization to achieve its desired outcomes. Give yourself anywhere from six weeks to a few months to plan your hackathon, depending on the components, approach, number of participants, and desired outcomes.
  4. 4. 2 All hackathons start with a clearly defined problem or challenge you’re trying to solve. Next, determine the participants you need to create the right mix of expertise. In parallel, relevant materials such as use cases, data sources, IT infrastructure, legal documentation, and evaluation criteria are assembled as background information for participants. The event can then take place in a physical or virtual (or both!) environment. You may think hackathons solve only technical problems, but that’s not the case. The creative process hackathons embody can be applied much more broadly, such as: Coding/Product Development. Use this approach if you are looking to create an MVP—minimum viable product. This is what most people envision when they think of hackathons. Ask yourself if you have the in-house talent and technology to build it or if integrating a third party would help. Activities include: agile development sprints, pitching, live audience stand-ups and retrospectives Prototyping. Use this approach when you have concepts that you want to test with stakeholders. How will you learn what needs to be changed? Activities include: paper prototyping, digital wireframes, service mockups, real-world feedback collection, co-creation User Experience Testing. Use this approach to designate testing time to a new product or to revisit an old product or process. How could it be improved? Activities include: direct and remote testing, moderated and unmoderated testing, focus groups Stakeholder Engagement. Use this approach to better test and understand the core needs of your stakeholders. Methodically work through complex topics by synthesizing data, defining manageable problem statements, rapidly generating new concepts for products or services, and building mockups. Have you effectively addressed all key requirements? Is the user experience intuitive? Activities include: ethnographic research, sense- making, reframing, ideation, mockups, rapid prototyping, freeform designing, playing with typography, externally inspired moodboards Marketing or Business Development. Use this approach to answer some big-picture business questions. Is your marketing audience still the same? Does your end user still need this experience/product? Who are your competitors and what are they doing? Activities include: developing pitches, assessing marketing approaches, market research, competitive analysis, SWOT analysis Seriously, What’s a Hackathon? While hackathon structures can vary widely, all share the same organizing principles— collaboration, crowdsourcing, competition, and creative problem solving. They can last hours, days, or even weeks, bringing people together to ideate, test and accelerate new ideas in a low-risk environment.
  5. 5. 3 These approaches are not mutually exclusive—you can use one or many in your hackathon. The activities described may sound a lot like crowdsourcing, a process that gathers inputs from a crowd of people who are working toward one common goal quickly and efficiently (the word itself is derived from “crowd” and “outsourcing”). Hackathons are a form of crowdsourcing, and crowdsourcing is often used during hackathons. But, by putting constraints around crowdsourcing (event-based, in-person, problem-oriented, etc.), hackathons can not only amplify the power of the crowd, but also mitigate the accompanying risks. For example, the judging criteria of a hackathon can influence both the process and the outcomes, helping the crowd stay on track. ORGANIZATIONAL BENEFITS Given that hackathons are used to solve a range of challenges and support various organizational objectives, the exact benefits will depend on what it is you’re trying to do. Here are some of the most common benefits: Solve hard problems. A hackathon’s structure demands innovation, encourages open dialogue and incentivizes participants to solve your hardest challenges and problems. Find ways to improve. By applying methodologies such as design thinking, agile, rapid prototyping, data science, and more, hackathons can help to encourage innovation and improve existing processes, products, or ways of thinking or working. Showcase technical capability. Hosting and participating in hackathons puts your talents and capabilities on display. It highlights talent who might not often be in the limelight and cements conviction in the capabilities where you are strongest as an organization. Build a community. Partner up with organizations and individuals who share your mission and you’ve got a winning combination. This can allow existing talent to network or learn new skills from other experts in the area, while enabling you to build a “community of practice” that can be engaged for future challenges. Attract and retain talent. Hackathons are creative processes, so creative people gravitate towards them. Hosting a hackathon is a natural way to engage with the best and the brightest, and enable prospective recruits to experience your culture. Hackathons also provide a platform to re-engage your existing talent and to make sure they are connected, meaningfully contributing, and valued for their skills and passion.
  6. 6. 4 12 Hackathon Best Practices We have tried a lot of different hackathon models. Through this experimentation, we have always found that the best hackathons celebrate both individual ingenuity and team performance. How can that be possible? Adopt our 12 best practices and you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds, too. 0201You may read that and think, “well that’s obvious.” But we want to emphasize this because the challenge statement should be your guiding light for structuring the hackathon, engaging participants and designing the solution(s). You should be able to succinctly define the problem you’re trying to solve in a sentence or two, and be able to clearly define what “success” means. Whether your solution is a product, process, or something else, keep the end user’s needs in mind as you define the problem. It’s also important to practice empathy and retain this perspective throughout the hackathon by providing reminders during solution design. This is often done by having experts available to provide real-time feedback, featuring speakers throughout the hackathon to keep focus on the initial problem, reframe constraints and uncover unmet requirements. The last think you want is a tone-deaf solution to a problem the user doesn’t have. One of the best things about a hackathon is that it brings together technical and non-technical people who wouldn’t ordinarily work together. Inclusion is a powerful catalyst for innovation—don’t stifle that innovation by being too rigid. Let this atypical team shape the experience for themselves. You’ll be amazed at the ideas that come out of getting different perspectives into the same room together. We mentioned before that the best hackathons also have a knack for letting individual ingenuity thrive. (Pro Tip: One way to make sure that happens is to log all of the completed ideas from the event into a database and attribute who did what. Take it a step further and assign a team to pursue the ideas beyond where you had to stop. You could even ask non-hackathon participants to pick an idea and build upon it.) It’s true of improv comedy and it’s true of hackathons—never say no. Instead, say “yes, and…” Always take an idea a step further as a team. CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE PROBLEM OR CHALLENGE FOCUS ON THE TEAM EXPERIENCE
  7. 7. 5 03Bringing together diversity is great, but it can be disconcerting for a group of people who don’t usually work together to suddenly do so in an accelerated environment. That’s where trust in a hackathon’s structure comes in—it will help to establish what collaboration looks and feels like during this challenge. That’s not to say you can’t bend or break the rules, but by using tried and true hackathon practices as a baseline, you’ll be able to wrangle people of diverse backgrounds to work together well and ultimately, to be successful. Structure means knowing what the desired outcomes of the challenge are, what the judging criteria are, or if teams are expected to present their findings at the end. All of this guidance creates an environment in which it’s safe to take risks. HAVING RULES IS OKAY 04So you’ve got a diverse team and some structure. Leading you across the finish line will be a facilitator or facilitators. Your facilitator(s) should know who all of the participants are, be aware of the defined problem sets and available information, create the hackathon’s underlying structure, and make sure everyone is heard. They will hold the group to those rules—things like only one person can speak at a time, there are no bad ideas, and ELMO (enough, let’s move on). Facilitators can also be subject matter experts or have domain expertise in a specific area, which you’ll need for your hackathon anyway. This emphasizes the idea that you should be free to learn from anyone around you. A good facilitator will encourage a collaborative spirit even in a competitive environment and recognize the power of working as one toward the best possible solution. INVITE A FACILITATOR
  8. 8. 6 05 06We get it, siloes in your business provide organizational structure. But siloes have no place in a hackathon. They stop the free flow of information, slow down decision-making, and can send you back to square one if something goes wrong. You’ll want participants from across your organization to collaborate laterally, including leadership. For example, if your hackathon is tied to your organization’s overall mission, having a business leader’s perspective will be valuable. Participants should be free to try new things and dig into topics they might not consider themselves an expert on. If this freedom is applied within the structure of the hackathon and under the guidance of the facilitators, you could uncover new insights. It goes back to the idea of having a diverse group of voices in the room—it ensures all perspectives can be shared to make the solution richer and more meaningful, i.e., having a customer service rep around when a product design is being discussed. This gets back to the idea of crowd- sourcing, and we encourage you to think of your crowd in two different ways. First, in your research phase, consider the “crowd” to be those from whom you’re collecting qualitative data. Let the collective wisdom from this group of potential end users drive your ideation. Second, think of the crowd as the group of people who are actively participating in the hackathon. They’re going to bring varied, and sometimes competing ideas to the table. Since you’re not working in siloes, these ideas will play out in front of a diverse team. Trust in the wisdom of that team to drive you forward when you’re stuck—but don’t be afraid to call ELMO to keep things moving. BREAK DOWN SILOES EMBRACE THE WISDOM OF THE CROWD Being agile is all about making assumptions, testing those hypotheses, and then iterating on your idea based on your findings. It means not being afraid to try a new idea if something isn’t working.
  9. 9. 7 0807Cognitive diversity is the goal, but often that comes from being identity diverse. Make sure you’ve baked diversity into your hackathon participation to encourage that natural diversity of thought. That can mean making sure you have all levels of the organization represented as well as bringing in diverse demographics. Bring in those for whom English may be their second language. Welcome participants from diverse ages, races, genders, sexes, and more. This is especially important to remember if your hackathon has multiple teams. Just like the physical meaning of the word, “agile” means embracing a nimble approach. Being agile is all about making assumptions, testing those hypotheses, and then iterating on your idea based on your findings. It means not being afraid to try a new idea if something isn’t working. You’ll be working quickly, structuring your work in mini sprints. An agile approach allows you to keep moving forward. This is the true spirit of a hackathon—to work and learn as much as you can as you work toward a common goal. Even if you don’t finish with a solution, because you took an agile approach, you’ll at least walk away with strong insights, ideas, and concepts. MIX IN DIVERSITY BE AGILE Design Thinking Process Empathize Define Ideate Prototype Test Design Thinking Agile Development Lean UX
  10. 10. 8 “Regardless of profession or title, at some level we are all hired to do the same job. We are all problem solvers, paid to anticipate, identify, prevent, and solve problems within our areas of expertise. This applies to any job, at any level, in any organization, anywhere in the world...” — Martin Yate 09We talked about how important keeping an agile mindset is. It is equally important to be able to recognize when you are not making progress. Especially if you’re working on a timed challenge, you don’t have time to linger over issues for very long. If your team is arguing over something or just plain stuck, use that established structure and agile mindset to regain your inertia. The focus should always be on moving forward and making progress. Keep moving, even if that means only taking small steps forward at times. KNOW WHEN TO MOVE ON 10So, you’ve completed your first hackathon—don’t let all those fabulous insights stop with its participants at the end of the event. Identify what worked well and what didn’t, and document them for your next hackathon. Or, think bigger and use what you learned from working in the microcosm of the hackathon to apply insights to the business as a whole, if possible. Sharing what you’ve learned with the rest of the organization can not only create a level of comfort with the hackathon concept but also help you perfect your craft. Additionally, it will help to establish your company’s unique brand of hackathons and establish hackathons in your culture. SHARE LESSONS LEARNED
  11. 11. 9 11 12This might go without saying, but your follow through matters. Some hackathons end with a fully viable solution. Others might not, and that’s okay! The collective ideas and concepts that you’re left with can still be used to build great things after the hackathon. But that’s only possible if everything is collected in a knowledge management database where ideas can be considered for future use. This information can be the seed for future hackathons or future solutions that just need a little more nurturing in order to take shape. Great ideas and work should not be forgotten, and great care should be taken to let your participants know that this is the case. At the end of your challenge, you’ll have a number of artifacts—maybe a solution or maybe just ideas and concepts. Encourage, and embrace, the accidental by putting these pieces in a public, open-source domain. You might be surprised who stumbles upon your ideas and solutions, and the unlikely new solutions they can create from them. This practice is a force multiplier for moving your ideas beyond the end of the hackathon. It’s also how many businesses learn from one another—and adds credibility to your organization to establish you as a thought leader. IT’S NOT OVER WHEN ITS OVER ENCOURAGE THE ACCIDENTAL
  12. 12. 10 IF I FIND 10,000 WAYS SOMETHING WON’T WORK, I HAVEN’T FAILED. I AM NOT DISCOURAGED, BECAUSE EVERY WRONG ATTEMPT DISCARDED IS OFTEN A STEP FORWARD.” – THOMAS EDISON
  13. 13. 11 Planning Guides Okay, so you know what a hackathon is, what its benefits are, and some best practices. You’ve decided a hackathon is the right move for your business. Start by asking yourself these questions in order to best position your organization to reap the benefits. FIRST What is the problem you’re trying to solve? What is the scope of your challenge? How will you define success? SECOND Do you have the technology, time, funds, space, facilitators, expertise, physical and/or virtual space, and other partners to successfully host? THIRD Will the outcome/solution generate new business or somehow benefit the organization? FOURTH Whom are you solving a problem for? FIFTH Does your hackathon’s purpose align with the organization’s broader business goals? SIXTH Do you need to pull in a sponsor, partner, or communities of stake- holders that would help? Getting started Use the pre-event checklist at right to help define your challenge scope and your audience(s). Photocopy it, tear it out of this booklet—do what you need to do. This would be a good time to look back at page 2 to review the different types of hackathons before moving on. Which approach is right for you?
  14. 14. 12 THE BEST WAY TO PREDICT THE FUTURE IS TO CREATE IT.” – ABRAHAM LINCOLN
  15. 15. 13 Planning Guides You’ve decided a hackathon is the right idea for your business and you know which approach you’re going to take. Now it’s time to think tactically and build an operational outline of a successful challenge. FIRST Set the stage. Develop your challenge and define your problem set. Get at the granular levels of your problem— whom is the problem solving for? Why do they need it? Where will it be used? How do you want users to feel about it? SECOND Gather your data. Decide who is (or isn’t) participating and when and where (virtually?) you’re hosting it. Figure out your data requirements and identify the kinds of technologies you’ll have at your disposal during your hackathon. Figure out if this will be an internal endeavor or if you could outsource at least part of the problem. Set the Stage Let’s consider the stages of a hackathon: use the checklist below as your operational guide. THIRD Decide what to do. Create a game plan for your actual hackathon. It might be helpful to form teams, set deadlines, and work backward from a decided-upon release date. Make time for brainstorming guided by your observation and business insights. Include an ideation phase where you’ll cycle in and out of ideas quickly— these should be documented. Pre-structure how you’ll rapidly prototype the winning idea that comes out of the ideation phase. FOURTH Wrap it up. Agree upon a release date (or time) when the work will stop. Plan to document lessons learned and share with the team and business at large. Decide if another team outside of the hackathon will build upon your final outcome(s) or if a client will take bring it to full maturity. Don’t know how to answer some of these questions to put these actions into practice? That’s where Booz Allen can help. We’ve got the expertise you need in to run a successful hackathon, and we can guide you every step of the way. (Read about hackathons we’ve helped with on page 17!)
  16. 16. 14 THE CRITICAL INGREDIENT IS GETTING OFF YOUR BUTT AND DOING SOMETHING.” – NOLAN BUSHNELL
  17. 17. 15 Registration and snacks Opening remarks Defining the problem Ideas pitch Form teams Building closes Doors open Breakfast Team check-in Lunch Speaker 1 Dinner Mentor Feedback Speaker 2 Building closes Doors open Breakfast Team check-in Lunch Presentations due Dinner Presentations start Winners announced Event ends Planning Guides Now that you’ve scaled out the big-picture approach of your hackathon, it’s time to get into the details. Creating a schedule for your challenge will keep everyone on the same page and help you identify if anything’s missing. Sample Timeline It can be hard to know what to schedule into your hackathon, so here’s a guide: FRIDAY 6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 8:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m. 12:00 a.m. SATURDAY 8:00 a.m. 8:30 a.m. 10:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. 12:30 p.m. 5:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 12:00 a.m. SUNDAY 8:00 a.m. 8:30 a.m. 10:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 8:00 p.m. The first day is all about laying the groundwork for a successful event; get everyone excited and on the same page. Day two is full of activity. Keep everyone on track with planned check-ins, breaks, and inspiring speakers. The third (and often final) day of a hackathon can fly by! Make sure everyone is aware of final presentation times, and be sure to announce the solutions at the end of the event. Key times Team-related Host-related
  18. 18. 16 We can tell you everything we know about hackathons, but we also want to show you how hackathons work. So we’ve highlighted three recent hackathons that Booz Allen has helped facilitate, including one hackathon we held internally. Each example had a different objective, used a different kind of structure, and resulted in various types of solutions and outcomes. Some were competitive, some weren’t. One was completed in a single day, while another spanned 72 hours. These examples prove the flexibility of the hackathon model, but should also reinforce that the overarching, accepted hackathon principles should be a part of every challenge.
  19. 19. 17 Transportation Hackathon Booz Allen hosted a one-day hackathon on Saturday, April 23, 2016. This event was designed to engage Booz Allen employees to identify and address several transportation industry analytics needs—namely, in the age of connected vehicles (CVs), how can cities better manage their transportation assets in a secure way? STRUCTURE: The organizational team (two POCs, six volunteers, nine mentors, and five judges) created 10 six-person, pre-determined teams before the event. They included a mix of experienced and inexperienced, knowledgeable and technically capable participants. The list of teams was sent out ahead of time. Some teams were remote in Boston. The three challenges for the event were also predetermined. The teams could choose to elaborate on any one of the three. The topics were 1) an analytics dashboard for connected vehicles, 2) a smart-city dashboard, or 3) a Federal Aviation Administration airport challenge. OUTCOMES: Ten final presentations and 10 dashboards were developed. Two dashboards were built upon further after the event and used for proposals. There were also brown bags, an account leads meeting, and a segment during the Transportation Account All-Hands meeting dedicated to the event. The winning team created the Boston City Dashboard, which measured future connectedness, livability, and transportation prospects in Boston communities. It used a number of variables like bus stops, charging stations, crime rates, income, and demo- graphic metrics to predict neighborhood connectivity. OBJECTIVES: There were five objectives for this hackathon: 1. Identify new analytics models for connected vehicles. 2. Raise awareness about the transportation market. 3. Provide training to employees 4. Create great networking opportunities 5. Identify new data scientists across the firm. AUDIENCE: The hackathon was open to the entire firm and ended up drawing 80 internal participants. Data scientists, IT strategists, process improvement specialists, subject matter experts, and data analysts all participated. TIMELINE: The pre-hackathon planning took two and half months, from the initial idea on February 1, 2016 to the day of the event on April 23, 2016 in Mclean, VA. Check out the winning dashboard at https://smbah.shinyapps.io/BostonCity/
  20. 20. 18 Hack the Machine Connected Ship Hackathon In February 2017, the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Cyber Warfare, in partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton and the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, hosted the U.S. Navy’s first-ever connected ship hackathon to tap into top millennial cyber experts and expose them to maritime cybersecurity use cases and challenges. STRUCTURE: The hackathon included three in-person components over the course of 72 hours: a maritime capture-the- flag game that allowed participants to test their hacking skills against Booz Allen’s “boat in a box” a physical connected ship communication interface; a competition to design algorithms that provide maritime domain awareness, identify anomalous behavior, and solve real world problems like human trafficking and piracy; and a design thinking sprint that targeted safer alternatives to GPS for maritime Precision Navigation and Timing. Additionally, virtual participants competed in a rapid user experience crowdsourcing challenge to provide an interface that created maritime scenarios and, using system data, highlighted inaccuracies in the scenario over time OUTCOMES: The U.S. Navy walked away from the hackathon with 10 winning solutions that they could further develop to improve the safety and efficiency of maritime cybersecurity, data science for safer oceans, and next-generation design for PNT alternatives. The biggest win of all for the U.S. Navy was successfully exposing 300 industry and new technical talent to the U.S. Navy’s maritime cybersecurity use cases and challenges. OBJECTIVE: The primary objective of the hackathon was to build a robust commu- nity of maritime cybersecurity talent from among a diverse pool of candidates in Austin, Texas. AUDIENCE: There were 302 on-site, and 550 online participants. Collectively, they had expertise in anti-jamming, spoofing, position, navigation, timing (PNT), and software defined radio. Their represented diverse backgrounds as many of them were IT Security, Radio Frequency Hackers, Capture the Flag Players, Industrial Control Engineers, as well as U.S. Navy, DIUx, top academics, and local Austin startup members. TIMELINE: Hack the Machine was a three-day event hosted February 16 to 19, 2017 in Capital Factory in Austin, Texas. Check out a video of the hackathon at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= CrMNnG0Zp0A&feature=youtu.be
  21. 21. 19 Baseball Analytics Hackathon The Baltimore Orioles and Booz Allen Hamilton hosted the Baseball Analytics Hackathon on February 5, 2016, at Camden Yards to discover new ways to change the game through data science. The top prize was four box seats to an Orioles game for each member of the winning team. STRUCTURE: Participants were allowed to register as a team or as an individual. Teams could be between three to six people. Orioles executives and expert data scientists were the judges of the competi- tive challenge and prizes were awarded to the winning projects. Both open source data repositories as well as unique datasets were provided to the participants so that they could hack a better solution. OUTCOMES: Twenty-two teams submitted solutions and presented their findings across a wide range of approaches, visualizations, and analytic complexity. Booz Allen made 14 direct connections with interested prospective data science hires and furthered a relationship with a Defense client, as he was a judge and gave the closing remarks. OBJECTIVE: To bring together data- minded baseball fans to further develop the statistical models and analytics needed to help baseball organizations field the best team possible. AUDIENCE: The hackathon welcomed data scientists, machine learning, and artificial intelligence experts (who may or may not also love baseball). TIMELINE: The hackathon was a one-day event held at Camden Yards. Check out the winning dashboard at https://public.tableau.com/profile/alexandria4237#!/ vizhome/ExpectedOutcomes/Dashboard1
  22. 22. 20 What is a Booz Allen hackathon? A hackathon is an event where a diverse team comes together to collaboratively solve a problem. Problems can be worked in parallel to solve a holistic problem set, or hackathons can be run in a series to continue iterating on a solution. A hackathon can take many forms. It can be about a specific technical problem or about a general organizational challenge. The value in a Booz Allen hackathon is its ability to bring together experts from varied backgrounds—from marketing and design thinking to systems delivery and change management. We believe that the best solutions are built through collaboration among bright minds with diverse perspectives and skills. It’s a great opportunity for an organization to tap into its talent and raw brainpower to create dynamic change. What is the purpose of a hackathon? A hackathon is meant to develop a solution to a pressing problem, whether that means process improvement, designing a new product, or sparking social change. All of the hackathons I’ve heard about require participants to have computer science or cybersecurity backgrounds. Is Booz Allen’s idea of a hackathon like that? No. While many hackathons focus on coding and computer science, Booz Allen recognizes that hackathons can take many forms. We believe a hackathon can and should be adapted to whatever process improvement an organization hopes to drive. In fact, the best hackathons include participants from a wide variety of backgrounds because a diversity of perspectives will create a stronger, more sustainable solution. How many people should participate in a hackathon? There is no minimum or maximum number of participants needed. We would encourage you to focus on the diversity of your participants, rather than the number of them. This approach allows organizations to tailor hackathons to their goals and values. What happens during a hackathon? Booz Allen representatives will guide your organization through the entire process. We will help you prepare, plan, and define/refine your problem sets, as well as help you structure fast-paced ideation sessions, mini courses, and informational presentations on the day(s) of the event. We work closely with you to customize the event to your needs. Every hackathon is different, but no matter the goal or the structure, we make sure your hackathon efforts are maximized so that your organization gets the best outcomes. Frequently Asked Questions
  23. 23. Let’s do this­! Reach out to our leaders below to find out how Booz Allen can help run your company’s most successful hackathon ever. We can’t wait to hear about the creative ideas you have! Brandon Dube Hackathon Architect Washington, DC Dube_Brandon@bah.com Brian MacCarthy Director of San Francisco Innovation Hub San Francisco, CA MacCarthy_Brian2@bah.com Anastasiya Olds Hackathon Strategist Washington, DC Olds_Anastasiya@bah.com We would like to thank all of our writers, reviewers, editors, and contributors: Jen Aranyi, Stephen Arlington, Sarah Bell, Brandon Dube, Alison Jarris, Patrick Johnson, Monika Kowalczykowski, Ivan Kuo, Kimberly Lofgren, Brian MacCarthy, Mary Mallampalli, Toblyn Nishi, Anastasiya Olds, Erin Prah, Evan Schalton, and Barry Scharfman.
  24. 24. BOOZALLEN.COM© 2017 Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. About Booz Allen Booz Allen Hamilton has been at the forefront of strategy and technology for more than 100 years. Today, the firm provides management and technology consulting and engineering services to leading Fortune 500 corporations, governments, and not-for-profits across the globe. Booz Allen partners with public and private sector clients to solve their most difficult challenges through a combination of consulting, analytics, mission operations, technology, systems delivery, cybersecurity, engineering, and innovation expertise. With international headquarters in McLean, Virginia, the firm employs more than 22,600 people globally and had revenue of $5.41 billion for the 12 months ended March 31, 2016. To learn more, visit BoozAllen.com. (NYSE: BAH)

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