Yup, the moment has come, we are kicking off the #DevPolHack experience right now.
Here are few
things to keep in mind:

Feeling welcomed and supported at a DevPolHack plays a major role. Ensure that everyone arrives on time and are familiar with what a DevPolHack is. It is not neccessary to share too many details, but make sure to welcome participants in the process and embrace the feeling of confusion. Before engaging in a ice-breaker or an energizer, we recommend giving time for people to arrive and check in. 

Get ready to say hi to everyone and present your challenge after check-in. Also, make sure that you are in active listening mode, because creative fluids will flow into your challenge from the first minute. 

Every DevPolHack is a unique experience. Even if this is not your first time, make sure to give it all your attention, as uninterrupted as possible.  

a. Starting activity and setting the stage

1. How to? Step-by-step

Say hi and make sure your audio, video and other online aspects work well 😊

Photo by Per Lööv on Unsplash

1. How to? Step-by-step

Check ins are a way to ground a session and help build empathy between people. We recommend using the check-in round so people can share their name, their roles and how are they entering this hackathon space. In online version of events, you are envouraged to use emojis in a white board or the chat. Check-ins are critical to creating greater trust within a group working together.


2. Templates and tools  (incl. links) 

If you wish to spice it up, you can generate a check-in question on this website: https://thedigitalworkplace.com/checkin/

Three wishes (20 mins) 

Talking about wishes and dreams can be a great way to energize your event and get people talking. In this virtual energizer, participants are encouraged to choose three wishes and discuss them with the group. We find one great approach is to use an online whiteboard or Google Doc and invite people to post a GIF or an image that best represents each of their wishes. Other participants can then leave comments or sticky notes to guess what they represent! Encouraging your group to be creative and find GIFs or images that speak to them personally can be a great way to help a team bond and generate conversation. Timebox this part of the exercise to create a bit of pressure and get people moving quickly! 

For more energizers for this phase, choose one of the games in 100 ways to energise groups: https://www.ndi.org/sites/default/files/Energisers.pdf 

1. How to? Step-by-step

The challenge host presents her/his challenge as prepared in the previous phase, followed by Q&A with participants Note to keep in mind: The challenge has been already communicated to the participants through email. Make sure in this presentation you give more insights into the context and how your team came up with the challenge definitoion. Sharing the experience of But-Why or HMW technique will be very useful.

2. Templates and tools  (incl. links) 

To help your challenge host present the challenge best, you can additionally use this problem identification canvas: https://miro.com/app/board/uXjVM7sGeVo=/ (not obligatory)

3. Social Media

From this point on, social media can be used to cover the content of the DevPolHack Your assigned team member should capture and post real-time on your chosen social media channels

"If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions."
- Albert Einstein -

After these first steps, you will organize a round of activities that help participants connect, understand and dig deeper into the problem.

As a DevPolHack organizers, you can always choose to apply the But-Why or HMW technique again, allowing for participants to comment and dig deeper into the challenge.

However, we strongly recommend not to apply the same techniques but to use different tools that are more appropriate for larger groups and collective brainstorming.

Check the next page for finding out which tools are we talking about.

b. Tools and Techniques

Problem Tree Tool (30mins to 3 hours)

We will repeat one more time what Einstein said: If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”

In order to look at the problem from different perspective and depths, let’s explore the challenge you were presented with the Problem Tree tool.

Step 1

Step 1: The problem or challenge is written in the centre of the flip chart and becomes the ‘trunk’ of the tree. This becomes the ‘focal problem’. The problem should be an actual issue everyone feels passionate about, described in general, key wording.

Click here for the board

Step 2

Step 2: Identify the causes of the focal problem – these become the roots – and then  the consequences, which become the branches. These causes and consequences can be created on post-it notes or cards, perhaps individually or in pairs, so that they can be arranged in a cause-and-effect logic.

Click here for the board

Step 3

The heart of the exercise is the discussion, debate and dialogue generated in the process of creating the tree. Take time to allow people to explain their feelings and reasoning, and record related ideas and points that come up on separate flip chart paper under titles such as ‘solutions’, ‘concerns’ and ‘dilemmas’.

Click here for the board

Problem tree analysis can take from 30 mins to 3 hours. Please make sure to decide on the length of the session prior to the hackathon.

c. What else is there

Useful Tools and Frameworks

The Iceberg Model (it’s bigger than you think!)
Step 1

1. The Event Level

The event level is the level at which we typically perceive the world—for instance, waking up one morning to find we have caught a cold. While problems observed at the event level can often be addressed with a simple readjustment, the iceberg model pushes us not to assume that every issue can be solved by simply treating the symptom or adjusting at the event level.

2. The Pattern Level

If we look just below the event level, we often notice patterns. Similar events have been taking place over time — we may have been catching more colds when we haven’t been resting enough. Observing patterns allows us to forecast and forestall events.

3. The Structure

Level Below the pattern level lies the structure level. When we ask, “What is causing the pattern we are observing?” The answer is usually some kind of structure. Increased stress at work due to the new promotion policy, the habit of eating poorly when under stress, or the inconvenient location of healthy food sources could all be structures at play in our catching a cold. According to Professor John Gerber, structures can include the following:

Physical things — like vending machines, roads, traffic lights or terrain.
Organizations — like corporations, governments, and schools.
Policies — like laws, regulations, and tax structures.
Ritual — habitual behaviors so ingrained that they are not conscious.

4. The Mental Model Level

Mental models are the attitudes, beliefs, morals, expectations, and values that allow structures to continue functioning as they are. These are the beliefs that we often learn subconsciously from our society or family and are likely unaware of. Mental models that could be involved in us catching a cold could include: a belief that career is deeply important to our identity, that healthy food is too expensive, or that rest is for the unmotivated.

Step 2



Select a recent event that strikes you as urgent, important or interesting. Some examples include a recent weather event, the pandemic, a controversial court decision or a high profile court case; a local policy change or contentious issue; recent military action between nations; or an issue you’ve personally encountered recently.

Write the event (what is observable about the event) at the top of the iceberg (you might draw an iceberg/triangle) and work your way down through the patterns, underlying systems and mental models, adding as many as you can think of.

It can also be useful to move up and down between levels as you think more about the event.

Step 3


Does the iceberg model help broaden your perspective? If so, how might this new perspective be helpful?
Consider the concept of entry, or “leverage” points. These are points at which to intervene in a system that could lead to systemic transformation.
Does the exercise show you any new entry points at which you are inspired to intervene?
What issues that have frustrated you might be interesting to analyze with the Iceberg Model?
What else?


Is there action to take? Consider the Who/What/When Matrix to connect people with clear actions on tasks and a commitment on when they will complete the task.