I recently attended a Geek Girls Dinner where speaker spydergrrl talked to us about hacking as a mindset. What an eye-opener this talk was – not because she said anything that I considered revolutionary or new, but rather because she put a name to something that I was familiar with.
I went to the meeting as a way of stretching myself, meeting non-HR folk, and hopefully learn more about the IT realm. I also went in thinking the topic sounded interesting. I believe my exact thought was “I bet she’s going to talk about computer or software hacking…like Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo….cool”.
So when she started out by asking the group who associated the word with hacker with the stereotypical pimply faced kid sitting in the basement, breaking into some top secret database…I had to admit, I was thinking…uh yeah. Fortunately I was astute enough to realize this was a rhetorical question and didn’t raise my hand. Thank god. Like I wanted to be known as the Stupid HR girl.
The remainder of the presentation focused on the concept of hacking as it applies to just about everything – how you approach problem-solving, how you view procedures/items….and when she talked about Lego hacks, then it resonated with me (I know, how sad is that). I realized that in my household – that kind of hacking is par for the course. My son hacks all his stuff. We hack furniture regularly – my husband turned a piano we inherited with our house into three separate wall shelves, the table top for our office desk, and an incredibly funky metal garden structure. In fact, my new found love is Ikea Hackers and ScrapHacker.
However, the hacking mindset goes well beyond just modifying something – it’s about sharing that information and helping others to do the same. This is probably where most people stumble because they want to keep ideas to themselves. People want to be that subject matter expert.
So when I think about applying hacking to HR, I wonder how that might work. In fact, after the meeting I was talking to a few other participants and I said I loved the mindset, but thought it might be a bit hard for HR. The best response to this was one women who said, “Oh no way – you’ve got to hack the shit out of HR – it sucks”.
Now, I don’t think HR sucks, but I do think there are ways it can be re-thought and we can change the way we approach challenges in it; however, the aspect of not hoarding the good ideas and sharing what works and helping others out…that’s something that is easy to do. Once you have the right mindset, of course.