How to hack work, part 2

This is part 2 of my post on How to Hack Work, an approach to getting more out of your working life by bending the rules and repurposing resources to get more done. Here’s a summary of part 1 to catch us up on the key points:

  1. First things first, you have to understand the rules and resources you have to hand. The Business Model Canvas is a good place to start and will help you get the big picture view of why you all turn up in the first place.
  2. Once you have the big picture you should try some personal Value Innovation. If you’re going to be a cog in the machine, why not spin a little faster, or slower, or in another direction? Blue Ocean strategy is normally reserved for executive strategy decisions. Why not repurpose the tool and apply it to yourself? If it works you will have a unique selling point that differentiates you from your peers and delights your customer (the employer in this case)
  3. Reinforce your big picture view form another perspective. The customer’s. Too many of us employees get lost in perfecting our reports and presentations at the expense of adding value to our customers, as Jack Welch said “everyone has their face toward the CEO and their ass toward the customer”.
  4. Set your vision, after all … success is a mental transformation

Okay, so you get it. You think you’ve figured out a way to really shine, to really enjoy going to work, to work ‘switched on‘. Now what? Now comes the tough part, now you have to implement.


Don’t expect to get it right first time. James Dyson, Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, they all failed thousands of times. But you know what, they had fun trying. Experimenters love to play, or try out different ideas, or make it faster, or easier, or safer. Experimenters learn from their mistakes, embracing early failures so they can iterate over and over again until they are happy with their work. That’s what you have to do. Momentum, speed and using whatever is to hand will be your new best friends. Make small changes under the radar and try them out on others, get feedback, make improvements and keep at it.

The Ten Faces of Innovation has a great chapter on the role of the experimenter within IDEO. I highly recommend reading it. Note: the image here is of a prototype medical device constructed during an IDEO design session.


Bootstrapping is at the heart of hacking. When we talk about bootstrapping new venture funding we are talking about going around the venture capitalists and banks to find more non-traditional sources of finance such as credit cards, family loans or crowdsourcing your first production run of customer pledges.

For workplace hackers, bootstrapping is about seeking forgiveness rather than seeking permission. It’s about finding small ways of seeding your value innovations without having to submit entire business cases and formal approvals. Above all, it’s about realising that the details do matter. Get your prototype right, test it out and improve it before you go public. Approval should be a fait accompli.

Some Inspiration 

I want to finish with a mention for the MIX, the Management Innovation Exchange and their currently running Management 2.0 Hackathon for workplace hackers. At present, this collaborative effort is crowdsourcing some pretty innovative approaches to hacking work, like these:

  • Adapt kickstarter to crowd fund internal projects
  • Collaborative business planning
  • Funding innovation without a business case

You still have the opportunity to get involved and post ideas of your own. Create an account here if you want to take part. If you develop enough discussion you might even get coached by the likes of Gary Hamel, Steve Denning or jim Stikeleather !


3 thoughts on “How to hack work, part 2

  1. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog? My blog site is in the exact same niche as yours and my users would definitely benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Appreciate it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s