Everything seems to be a potential hack target these days; the school system, shopping, housing, business and even parenting. Your mind has more than likely jumped to the 1995 cyberpunk thriller “Hackers” that revolves around a corporate extortion conspiracy. I am not talking about hacking in that sense (traditional, and negative, sense of the word). Rather, we are talking about means to do things smarter, more efficiently and embrace knowledge recently uncovered. Just because something has been done a certain way for a prolonged period of time doesn’t mean there are not better ways to do it. Have a look at this “HackSchooling” Youtube clip (7 422 819 views) that will give you an idea of what it means to hack an established system. In this case the school system.
It is not about cutting corners or being lazy (the view of people whose style of existence is justified by their “busyness”). Productivity, is defined by efficiency more than it is by speed (particularly when the speed turns to haste). Getting things done does not need to be solely about hard work. The adage, and indoctrinated belief, that the amount of success you achieve is directly proportional to the amount of hours you put in has bred a society more skilled at being busy than doing meaningful and creative work. A large proportion of the “Baby Boomer” generation spent their careers being the first in the office and the last to leave. Now in retirement, they struggle to find meaning in their daily pursuits. They continue to sit behind computer screens and partake in activities that do not necessarily make them happy, even though there is no longer anyone to answer to or impress. I believe that this is largely in an attempt to keep at bay the indoctrinated guilt of not being busy. There is no fault or weakness on their part but rather this is a function of a faltering system – a system that rewards people for the number of hours worked rather than the quality of the work achieved in those hours. This system is another example of one that could do with being hacked.
Hacking implies looking for the holes where inefficiencies creep in. It is about questioning why things are the way they are; challenging the status quo. It is about using technology to free up space. Space that is much better served being filled with creativity, true productivity and that makes the best use of people’s time and specific skill sets.
I have resisted using the cliché “work smart not hard” but it is the base or starting point for what I am talking about. Hacking is a method for discovering and defining the “smart”. In a business sense Hacking is the new R&D that should be employed to challenge what we blindly accept. Hacking is about asking questions much like “5 Why’s” (5 Whys is an iterative question-asking technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem). It is then about implementing new systems that address the root causes highlighted in the answers to those questions. If there is a way to do the same thing in less time or achieve the goals without as much effort then that change should be implemented right? The answer is an obvious “YES” except for the challenge of change which we know people resist and so the last part of hacking a system is about managing the change it causes.
Our core development philosophy is to see how we can “Hack” business processes. With new technology and ways of thinking available to organisations these days, we cannot understand how the cost of doing business is going up and not down. It is unfathomable to us, beyond the costs, that the benefits of these advancements are largely only packaged and supplied exclusively to the “Big Guys”. If technology is a true enabler then processes should be more efficient and the solutions provided less costly. The solutions developed should be “Smart” enough to cater for everyone and empower all levels of business. There seems to be something fundamentally flawed with the current business system and a massive part of what drives us, and our product development, is seeing how we can correct this. How we can hack this!
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Image Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk