Why You Should Break The Rules At Work

Work is full of stupid rules. (That’s a big reason why many people choose to freelance – no economic security, but no stupid rules, either!) You can’t use the e-mail program you want to use, and instead you’re stuck with Lotus Notes. You have to print out some form in triplicate but god help you if you try to save paper by using both sides. And so on.

Bill Jensen and Josh Klein are trying to hack work.

That’s actually the title of their new book – “Hacking Work” – and it’s about how you could get a whole lot more done at work if you weren’t worried about running ideas through the “appropriate channels” first and if you just went ahead and did it. In this context, “hacking” isn’t as much “stealing passwords” as it is, quote, “taking the usual ways of doing things and work[ing] around them to produce improved results.”

There are some very technical ideas in here (though no step-by-step tutorials; it’s not that kind of book) as well as ideas about “soft hacks” which is more or less the art of negotiation. “Hacking Work” tells the story of a guy who got himself a job by sitting in the company lobby, hacking into their network, and sending the CEO an e-mail from his own account. (The job? IT security, of course.) It also tells of smaller “hacks” like the middle manager who bought her staff an unauthorized wireless router so her employees could use laptops without cables and the folks who use Google Calendar instead of a calendar on the intranet.

Does the book sort of beat the ideas of cloud computing, blogs, and wikis into the ground? Yes. Could most of the book have been written without being cloaked in “hacking,” which starts to feel like the buzzword-du-jour? Sure. But it’s also sort of validating to read a book that acknowledges that real people don’t work the way corporations want them to. This book may not give you all the “cheat codes for work” but it’s a start.

It’s out now, for $26 retail, from Portfolio.

Disclosure: we were sent a copy of this book by a publicist, but we’re not keeping it. Stay tuned for more details on that.