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#Hackathon: How Sebastian facilitates on-line innovation workshops

By Berthilde, July 28, 2020
Sebastian Almer is a creativity and Design Thinking coach. He uses Klaxoon to provide remote support for his clients and organize online workshops.

As a creativity and Design Thinking coach, Sebastian Almer facilitates online innovation workshops for generating creative, practical and effective solutions. Sebastien’s role is to help his clients improve their strategies, processes, and technologies, as well as meet the challenges of service provision.

Sebastian used Klaxoon during a hackathon as part of a solutions activation program organized by the European Commission (EUvsVirus) aiming to help Germany fight the coronavirus pandemic. In just 48 hours, a team of 20 volunteers he was assisting, working 100% remotely, developed KapaMonitor, an application designed to balance supply and demand for available resources; as well as to control, plan, and efficiently distribute these resources during crisis situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch his video testimonial:

Given the situation, it was clear that there would soon be a shortage of hospital beds. It was vital to find additional beds. As part of this hackathon, my team and I were looking for a solution that would help strike a balance between German hospitals’ occupancy rates and hotels’ excess bed capacity.
Sebastian Almer, creativity and Design Thinking coach

How to facilitate collaboration and team engagement with Klaxoon

The EUvsVirus program is an initiative of the German Government. It aimed to bring together innovators, partners, institutions and investors from civil society through online workshops to develop collective solutions for meeting the challenges of coronavirus.

EUvsVirus began with a four-day online hackathon: more than 26,000 volunteers answered the call, meeting to compare their ideas and suggest projects.

As a moderator and facilitator on the program, Sebastian decided to work with the group that was suggesting the development of an application to help healthcare professionals and hospitals manage resources, beds, and patients during the health crisis. This team was made up of around 20 people with diverse skills: from developers, IT architects, and project manager, to marketeers and healthcare professionals. Once the project was identified, the team set itself the objective of creating a prototype in under 48 hours.

Sebastian very soon became aware of the inertia created by the number of people and ideas: he realized that discussions were not enough and that distributed teams need to be able to visualize what they’re working on to organize and launch their projects. For Sebastian, it was not about just setting up a telephone or video conference; he needed to enable the team to work together remotely just as they would in person. That’s why he suggested using Klaxoon to facilitate a hackathon devoted to creating the application, managing the project, and synchronizing a 100% distributed team.

It’s incredible! Just five minutes after we decided to launch a Klaxoon Brainstorm, the 20 participants were already sharing information simultaneously and in real-time on the Brainstorm. With Klaxoon, you can be operational and get down to work within five minutes.
Sebastian Almer, creativity and Design Thinking coach

How to manage projects remotely with Brainstorm

Creating an application within 48 hours and getting 20 people to collaborate remotely was a real challenge for Sebastian and his team. To allow everyone to contribute to the hackathon and pool their ideas, the team needed a shared digital workspace and an all-in-one visual platform. Sebastian launched a Klaxoon Brainstorm and simply shared it with the team using a link: discussions are centralized, everyone can post their ideas and organize them visually using any digital device – before, during, or after meetings.

Klaxoon really helped us bring all the pieces of the puzzle together and then move on to actually creating the application.
Sebastian Almer, creativity and Design Thinking coach

Initially, everyone logged on to the Brainstorm and was asked to post their ideas, to brainstorm every aspect of the project: the organization of the process for creating the application, the requirements (how to communicate with hospitals), the tasks that needed doing, the data to collect (the number of beds required), and how everyone could help at their level. The purpose of this first stage was also to mobilize their collective intelligence to identify the stakeholders: hospitals, crisis management staff, suppliers, hotels offering available beds, etc.

As facilitator, Sebastian set the objectives and defined the various tasks that needed accomplishing.

Sebastian launches a Brainstorm to collaborate efficiently with his team.

In a second phase, the team was divided into four sub-groups to work simultaneously and autonomously on different tasks. To define the tasks that needed to be carried out and assign roles for each team, Sebastian created a backlog zone for each sub-group on the same Brainstorm, using the SketchMyProject template.

While one team was creating a mockup of the application interface, another team worked on the front-end.

One team created a mockup of the application using dedicated software and posted it on the Brainstorm for the other teams to see.

Yet another team was responsible for creating the database and estimating how the available beds could be distributed. In order to do that, a data model and analysis was created to develop hypotheses and algorithms for establishing which hospitals were short on beds and when. Then, it was about identifying which hotels or gymnasiums could take patients in, what could be done to facilitate this, and how to transport beds, ventilators, and medical teams there. The team was able to share information in the form of text, images, diagrams, and tables directly on the Brainstorm.

How to synchronize the team efficiently using Klaxoon

As facilitator, Sebastian was responsible for the project’s progress and team coordination. But synchronizing people who have never worked together before, and who are not even in the same place, is a real challenge! With Brainstorm, however, the information is centralized, allowing everyone to monitor the project’s progress in real-time.

On the Brainstorm, as soon as a task is completed, the Idea that represents it is moved, so that the remaining tasks stand out more clearly. Brainstorm allows a visual representation and sorting of information like on a real whiteboard. Categories and dimensions can be configured by the Brainstorm facilitator and selected by all participants in order to allocate tasks, to indicate a due date, or to categorize certain tasks. Klaxoon makes it possible to pursue teamwork while also keeping a record of all discussions. The team is not limited to just screen sharing in a videoconference; the information is shared in the Brainstorm and can still be consulted after the meeting has ended.

If the group is stuck, or if there are questions, Sebastian must be able to identify the obstacles in order to suggest solutions. Thanks to the visual organization of ideas on the Brainstorm, he can intervene and resolve the situation without wasting any time.

With Klaxoon, you can all work together at the same time on a single board.
Sebastian Almer, creativity and Design Thinking coach

Using Klaxoon, in just 48 hours, the team created an operational prototype of the KapaMonitor application: an application that records, monitors, and schedules available beds in non-medical establishments. Put into service two days later, the application allows hotels and other service providers to offer their available beds and gives control centers an overview. It is an open source, upgradeable application for use at national level.

Contrary to many other teams, when we started out, we had no ideas, no resources, no team, no technology, no platform – nothing. Yet two days later, this application was operational and obtained the status of minimum viable product. As a mentor in this program, I saw a lot of different teams in several hackathons. I had never seen a team deliver real value and a solution so fast.
Sebastian Almer, creativity and Design Thinking coach

Kapamonitor is one of the 120 solutions selected from 2,500 projects to receive support from experts all over the world, to guarantee their development at international level and ensure they are used to fight the crisis.

The organizers, the hackathon jury, and the health service and government representatives were really very impressed that we were able to build an operational prototype for managing demand for beds during the Covid-19 crisis, from scratch in just 48h.
Sebastian Almer, creativity and Design Thinking coach
After the application was developed, Sebastian created a Results section, where he shared a link to the platform as well as additional information, logos, videos, and other communication tools.

Check out the Design Thinking Template, inspired by the best ideas from Klaxoon’s community of users!

Berthilde
By Berthilde, Communication Officer
Always listening, she lends an attentive ear to those around her... no wonder for this musician! In charge of communications at Klaxoon, Berthilde sources and promotes the most inspiring use cases from our community.