You’re Being Hacked

Here is what’s not up for debate:


  • Whether or not your training and development programs are being hacked by your workforce. (They are.)
  • That, from a user/learner’s perspective, your rules, tools and T&D programs suck. (They do.)
  • That you are no Easy Button. (Duh. When was the last time anybody compared your efforts to their iPhone apps or to Google?)

Welcome to the New Normal: Hacking One’s Work
Between one-third to two-thirds of your teammates are currently working smarter by working around your corporate-built systems.

There. An underground truth is finally out. Even during the toughest of economic times, your teammates are hacking benevolently: they’re working around stupid rules that make them work harder, not smarter.

One example from one of your own…
Raveena, a corporate trainer who confides to her trainees that because of budget constraints, much of what she provides “sucks.” So she sends them to free online sources outside of the company. After testing them on what they learned, she validates their certificates in required courses they never attended.

Another example from the workforce…
Matt realized he wasn’t going to stay at his company long enough to benefit from how his company evaluated his work. So he Googled “performance assessment,” rewrote his, and got HR to rework their approach to meet his needs, not just theirs.

These are not isolated, rogue incidents. When we did the research for our book, Hacking Work, we uncovered all sorts of underground activities like these. All done because most everything inside companies is still corporate-centered, and precious little is user-centered — based upon the workforce’s needs.

All That’s Left…
… is for you to decide what you’re going to do about this. Here’s the key criteria for your response, from the workforce’s perspective: How easy is it for me to do great work?

Is everything you do easy for learners to use? Super easy for them quickly learn what they need to learn? And then easy for them to do their best? …All because of how you designed your deliverable?

You can do this! If you choose to. If, from now on, everything you do is a lot more learner-centered.

Harvard Business Review called Bill and Josh Klein’s book, Hacking Work, one of the Top Ten Breakthrough Ideas of 2010. Their website:

Bill is today’s foremost expert on work complexity and making it easier for everyone to work smarter. He’s CEO of the Jensen Group and author of five business books, including the best-seller Simplicity. He can be reached at bill(at) simplerwork(dot)com.