The idealistic Hacking culture is the best breeding ground for new business ideas. New companies and value games flourish best in those organizations that follow the hacking principle that any need or problem can always be resolved creatively with a solution that is at least ten times better, faster and cheaper.
What is Hacking really?
Maybe you are surprised by linking business strategy with hacker culture. The word ‘hacker’ has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as a person who break into computers. But in reality, there is nothing immoral or unethical about hacking and the majority of hackers believe that nothing is ever perfect, and test the boundaries of what can be done by creative problem solving, iterative innovation and continuous adaptation.
The historical take is that the word ‘hack’ goes back to the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT. They loved the wires and switches and were fascinated by the complexity of the train systems. In this context, they defined ‘hack’ as avoiding linear thinking and the standard solution.
Hacking must be understood as a new philosophy for doing business that unlocks new motivations, innovative capabilities and hyper-efficient ways to identify relevant problems in people’s lives, and then solve them to make the world a better place. Hacking is not just a subcultural phenomenon for individuals who enjoy the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming the limitations of software systems to achieve novel and clever outcomes. Hacking is a problem-solving activity that works by envisioning solutions, forging hypothesis and trying things out. Hackers are full of distinguishing values such as passion, creativity, freedom, openness or collaboration.
Origins and evolution of Hacking
To appreciate much better this new philosophy of doing business, we need to understand the origins and evolution of hacking. This culture that emerged in the early days of computing was consolidated after the ‘dot.com bubble’ burst in 2001. This crisis finished with the pretensions of a generation of entrepreneurs who believed their idea and technology-driven business was gold. Venture capitalists, at that time, were too eager to believe in the potential of a business plan based mainly on an exponential growth of users, but lacking clear monetization schemes. The crash forced entrepreneurs and investors to pause and rethink because the most of the business plans weren’t worth the paper they were printed on.
Hacker culture took hold in Silicon Valley by changing business development into a more human-centric, collaborative, experimental, cross-functional and iterative approach. Instead of launching their vision in a single go, startups bootstrapped value games in cycles of discovery, design, development, testing and learning.
This culture crystallized in an edgy suite of strategy and innovation tools such as open source, design thinking, lean startup or agile development. These tools were developed by different practitioners, in different contexts, for different tasks. But all of them feature elements of hacking. Open-source coders hack the upfront costs of starting a business. Experience designers hack product ideas by prototyping and testing them with users. Software developers hack product ideas in iterated sprints, enabling them to respond to shifts and changes in technology and market conditions. Entrepreneurs hack business models by identifying key assumptions, building Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and running tests to validate these assumptions. These practices express perfectly the mindset and values that hacker culture infiltrated into the startup world. Since the start of the century, hacking has become a creative and cutting-edge way of doing business.
The creative-evolution mindset of Hacking
Currently, hacking is a new way of thinking and working appropriate for the twenty-first century and its digital revolution. Value Hackers are changing the world for the better and enriching the lives of others. This extraordinary claim has become the mantra of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and other innovation hot spots around the world, coding a new philosophy of humanistic and technological entrepreneurialism and kickstarting a bold era of creative evolution.
They are creating new business and human ecosystems that are swallowing whole industries at a time, eating up business that was previously dominated by telecom operators, media companies, advertising brokers, travel agencies, banks, retailers, carmakers, recruiters, taxi fleets, hotel chains or real-estate agents, as well as many others. They are creating new foundations for the economies and societies of the future. Decoded, it means: hackers are eating the world, so look out!
Nowadays, the innovative way of doing business means customer obsession, intellectual curiosity, future envisioning, entrepreneurship, fast design and development, risk taking, permanent learning and perpetual adaptation. Business strategy must be ruled by the hacking philosophy and the world’s most innovative and successful companies proudly display their hacker credentials.
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