Josh Klein — the fellow who trained crows to collect quarters and wrote an article for MAKE on how to toilet train your cat — and Bill Jensen wrote a new book called Hacking Work — an "instruction manual for getting your work done faster, more efficiently, and with more fun no matter what your company manual says." It came out last week and Josh and Bill wrote the following essay for Boing Boing:
Rules are made to be broken. But these days it seems like rules are made
to prevent good work from being done. As a result, happy mutants
everywhere are busting the crap out of them just to do their jobs. To
• One guy we interviewed sat in the lobby of a potential client and
emailed the CEO a list of his customer records – including credit card
#'s – from the CEO's own email account to demonstrate how insecure his
technology was. He got the account.
• A woman who was ordered not to bring up unhappy customer reports snuck
filmed testimonials on to YouTube. The public outcry was huge, and the
problems got fixed.
• Someone working at Apple couldn't get anyone to own up to changing
faulty product documentation, so he cc'd Steve Jobs. Within minutes
there was a stampede of people rushing to correct the error.
• A recent college graduate working for a yacht company starting
providing free problem-solving on a public message board to their
clients. When he was forced to stop or lose his job, those same clients
held their contracts ransom until the company agreed to employ him as
their head of customer service.
These are all examples of what we're calling Work Hacks – messing with
corporate systems and breaking the rules to get good work done. For
hundreds of years we've needed bureaucracies to gather, process, and
disseminate information and provide us with the tools we need to do our
jobs. But nowadays information can be gathered, processed, and
disseminated at scale by anyone with a net connection, and the tools we
can get for free online often outstrip those our companies provide for
us by a huge margin.
The result? Employees are more partners than serfs, and increasingly
they know it. Companies need to start treating them as such and support
them in building innovative solutions to the company's problems before
they out-produce, out-maneuver, and out-innovate them at their own
The examples above show you don't have to be a computer wiz to hack
work; anyone can do it if you know which rules are really bendable and
which ones to break. Hacking Work describes an attitude towards owning
your own career — it's taking the hacker ethos of the joy of learning
and applying it to whatever systems your employment is mired in to make
We recognize that this book is a big thumb in the eye of most corporate
cultures — which is completely fine with us. It's broken.
Let's start fixing it.
Hacking Work site | Buy on Amazon