Audacity and hope over digital apps: An arbiter’s-eye view

Editor's note: As part of GreenBiz’s focus on covering the space where technology and business meet to create the next generation of sustainability innovations, we are publishing a series of postcards from the Reinvent Business hackathon held on June 9-10 in San Francisco. The event, supported by the World Economic Forum, brought together an eclectic group from the design, tech, academic and business worlds. Their task: to develop tools with potential to “transform business from within.” This postcard comes from Liz Maw, the CEO of Net Impact. Read the first hackathon postcard submitted by BSR's Ted Howes, who wrote from a judge's perspective. The second postcard was sent in by Dan Riegel, a developer who works at EnergyHub in New York City.

Can a weekend hackathon reinvent business?

Absolutely -- and not so much.

Allow me to explain. 

When the judges for the Reinvent Business hackathon -- myself among them -- convened to review the 20 different projects produced by code geeks, designers, gamers, academics and business people in just two days, we quickly coalesced around three that would eventually be declared the winners.

Based on our judging rubric, we chose ideas that seemed most likely to take off and shake things up, and we gave credit to teams who put their ideas together with a compelling story and presentation.

The winners offered impressive presentations of feasible ideas. The judges commented behind closed doors, though, that there are versions of these ideas that already exist -- although adoption has been mediocre. Each of these teams added their own unique and creative spins to employee engagement, customer feedback and employee satisfaction.  

There were a few other projects that jumped out with potential to be developed into a “reinventory” (if I may invent a term). If our judging criteria had been based purely on originality, one of these might have won.

Photo of Reinvent Business hackathon team Return on Culture courtesy of Ted Howes

Next page: Happiness index, crowdsourcing corporate culture