Hacking is a mindset, as well as a way to indicate a new, practical, and tactical approach being applied to a topic. The term has evolved from being associated with shadowy tech activity to mean – typically by younger people – finding innovative solutions by using radically different thinking.
There can still be a legacy sense of subterfuge around hacking. However, the objective is simple: to shortcut or work around traditional routines and methodologies, whether at a high, local, or task level. Since Future of Work environments exhibit significantly different operating practices from those of legacy businesses, the concept of hacking might be a way for your company to conceive new ways of working.
Perhaps you don’t think disruption is necessary? One of IDC’s new top 10 predictions is that by the end of 2017, 70% of G500 companies will have digital transformation and innovation teams. History is not going to be relevant for anticipating what is next when so much is interdependent and evolving at the same time. Incremental changes are unlikely to be sufficient to create the new strategic plans that will enable your business to be successful in the emerging working environment.
So, hack it! Go back to first principles. Distance yourself from established practices and legacy contexts to review and analyze the fundamental tenets, elements, and objectives of your business. Here are four major areas that are significantly changing in the evolving Future of Work and could benefit from short-cutting how you typically think about your business.
- Digital transformation – Technology-related changes are probably the area of highest need for disruptive thinking. Some kind of overhaul may be necessary, as new applications are leveraged and embedded into core operations and business models and processes are altered. The first principles approach: Think about what the optimal current and future product(s) or service(s) would look like, then figure out what dream technology could facilitate creating and/or delivering them. Then, do some research to find out if these technical capabilities already exist. Embrace ideas from younger employers who’ve already integrated technology into their lives and ways of thinking. Bringing together computer programmers, software designers, and graphic artists to create new products in hackathons has achieved notable success for companies including Facebook, Cisco, and DBS. This is one approach to stimulate alternative thinking and engage employees around many areas, such as customer service and human resources.
- Workplace flexibility – This may best be viewed as a non-incremental shift in managing talent relative to how most companies have been treating their workers. Flexibility is a new mindset before it is a policy, one that understands how to address and accommodate each worker as an individual, developing different and reciprocal personal relationships based on trust and respect. First principles application: Consider how to maximize the potential of each employee, coaching each to create their optimal work profile that encompasses a combination of their strengths, task types, working style, team member dynamics, and non-work obligations. Then they can engage more in their work and be most productive.
- Career development – The linear, continuous, and compounding career is over, and individualized, latticed, and diversified careers are emerging. Customized career maps and other solutions will take time to replace the historical career tracks. A first principles approach: While your HR department is ramping up for their more strategic future role and evaluating useful HR tech tools, learn from employees’ perspectives on their careers. Ask your employees to develop their own personal business plans to identify their strengths, interests, and desired goals. Launch or expand internal mentoring to support people as they navigate internal corporate dynamics and assist with their career development.
- Contingent workers – Independent contractors and other contingent workers are a growing percentage of your workforce. Your company is benefiting from their skills and flexibility to suit the business’ needs in uncertain economic times. First principles thinking: People perform optimally when they are treated with equity, nurtured, and well-integrated into the overall workforce. Consider shifting hiring contractors under HR, rather than procurement, and provide similar support to contractors and employees. Review what skills and resources you really need for key projects, being open to all types of workers in fulfilling task requirements.
Conceptually, using first principles is simple. However, disconnecting yourself from your experiences is not easily done, and the number of areas in flux makes it more complicated. Focus on what the best future solution could possibly be in each area and situation based on current trends and optimized objectives, not traditional practices. Work back from there to come up with a transition path and new rules of engagement for your company in order to get there. Solicit ideas from all business contributors including new recruits, vendors, and customers.
This type of alternative thinking is the inherent approach of many potentially competitive disruptors. So, if you don’t galvanize your company’s Future of Work transition and hack your own business model, a startup that may be out of your line of sight may leave you scrambling to catch up.
Create a culture that turns out-of-the-box thinking into a strategic opportunity. Check out the webcast replay on Entrepreneurial Thinking: Becoming an Intrapreneur Inside Your Corporation, hosted by ASUG.