Hacking Work: Managing Up

Most people are *already* hacking their work, but just don’t know it.

Most people are *already* hacking their work, but just don’t know it.
Most of the time this has to do with what are called “soft hacks,” or
hacks that involve changing your relationship with others. We all have
to deal with bureaucracy day to day, but soft hacks work around those
rules through your everyday relationships.


For example, one assistant we spoke to was constantly being asked by
her boss to supply cash for the team’s coffees and the like ― instead
of drawing the funds out of petty cash. Then she got saddled with the
paperwork of applying for reimbursements, along with a 30-to-90 day
wait to get her money back. All this because her boss was
scatter-brained. He was a nice guy, just too disorganized to deal with
anything as petty as petty cash.

Hacking opportunity: Her boss always left his cash and other personal
items scattered around his office, and he constantly asked her to tidy
it up for him.

Hack: She got a nice-looking box from storage and, while tidying up
his office, slipped a couple of his own twenty-dollar bills into the
box. The next time he needed some cash, she whipped out his own money
for him to spend. He was so taken with both the box and the available
cash that, after they talked about where the money came from, he
stopped needing his office tidied ― or for his assistant to front him
any money.


It’s an interesting hack because it relies on providing a service in
exchange for a fault ― her actions and the conversation afterwards
helped him realize the impact of his bad habits… and that a little
organization could help him be a better manager. Her workaround ―
using his cash and organizing a sustainable solution to the situation
for him ― won her a lot of appreciation, and no more need to apply for

Solving someone else’s problems in a way that solves your own is an
elegant hack indeed, because you both win.

Bill Jensen and Josh Klein are releasing Hacking Work through
Portfolio Penguin on Sept. 23 ― a book on how and why to break the
rules to create more success for you, your customers and your company.