I love the intro to this idea subtitled Learn to love the rule breakers by Bill Jensen and Josh Klein:
The Problem: When a 12-year-old can gather information faster, process it more efficiently, reference more diverse professionals, and get volunteer guidance from better sources than you can at work, how can you pretend to be competitive? When the personal tools in your mobile phone are more empowering than what your company provides or approves for your projects, how can you be saved from devastating market forces?
Their point is that the tools we use in life have leapfrogged over the ones we use at work. And, some of the employees who stand out in your workplace have just learned how to hack together solutions using them.
Work Hackers aren't like the internet bad guys. They aren't stealing anything or breaking down password-protected walls. No, they're just working around the prescribed way of doing things. They're using open source and shareware and social networks to work faster, find new ideas and deliver deeper insight.
I'm a total work hacker. I knew that for sure when I was packing up during my last few days at Ologie. I was putting together an email about some of best go-to sources for pitches & proposals and I realized that none of them were the least bit usable in the way most people work. There were the Delicious libraries I pulled into a feed reader, the totally brilliant Exel + Wordle hack I went to for everything, the fake-making-an-ad-to-get-all-the-Facebook-demo-info-I-need "solution," the 3000 brilliant Twitter followers who seem to find anything I can't...
Hacking, it turns out, is not highly transferable.
But it is valuable. The new gen opportunity for companies is finding ways to translate how people really work into tools the entire company can use. One-size-fits-all Microsoft products aren't going to be enough. Ethnography + creative coding? That might do it.