Hacking Work – Breaking stupid rules for smart results (Book Review)

Review by Jolly Mokorosi

I got a chance to listen to the audio version of this book during 2 long haul flights recently. Before you get worried about the title and classify it as hacking in the IT sense let me put you at ease and admit to also being confused for a few moments myself. The book describes hacking as the processes of taking things apart, reconstruct and improving. The ‘back’ outlines this book as follows:

“We’re all frustrated every day in the office by bad systems, politics and bureaucracy. Consultant Bill Jensen and Josh Klein show you how hack work, that is, how to break free and really get stuff done. Read by Colin Mace.”

Hacking Work

I was starting to get worried about all the hacking the authors were encouraging everyone to do when the concept of the benevolent hacker was introduced. Two things about benevolent hackers that particularly stood out. Firstly, benevolent hackers challenge outdated rules and procedures. They also see the future and pull us towards it. Something to chew on.

It is read by Colin Mace and I must admit to being impressed by his reading. His voice is a little more animated and lively than some of the other professional readers I have come across and so it was a definite plus.

Favourite quotes

The book is packed with statements and quotes that inspire thought or at least remind you of some resolutions that were drowned by the year running away with us. Here are some:

‘Businesses infrastructure is not keeping up with us…..there are quantum leaps everywhere except work.’

‘To a carpenter with a hammer every problem looks like a nail.’

‘The history of hacking is the history of innovation.’

‘Being an employee is a high risk profession, little stands between you and market forces.’

Several other people are quoted in the book and out of those quotes these are some firm favourites:

“May forces of evil get confused on the way to your house” – George Carlin

“There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.” ― Peter F. Drucker

My favourite term in the book was definitely bureaucratic purgatory (a place you need not sentence yourself to for life).

The recommendations on the 5 hacks everyone should do had me sitting upright and taking note. In particular I like the idea of paying forward – someone out there is struggling with this problem. I also liked the recommendations around the timing of hacks and the 10 commandments of hacking.

The book outlines a promising case for 4 emerging trends that are changing the face of work. Of particular interest was the segment on digital footprints taking over and radical transparency growing everywhere. It would have been great if these trends were discussed in greater depth but I realise it would have detracted from the main purpose of the book.

The good, the bad and the ugly

The good thing about this book is it makes you think and calls on you to challenge. The bad part is the challenge borders on rebellion and creates an us versus them (you versus your superiors) atmosphere. This can lead to a severance of ‘team’. The book also struggles a little with momentum in the earlier parts and can be repetitive. The ugly is that there is some profanity in the book. This serves as a warning. I was taken aback to hear profanity in what is classified as a business book. Overall I would give the book a 3 and a half out of 5.

You can download a free pdf copy of an exert of the book on the website.You can also get a hold of both authors on the following email addresses:



Happy reading. Have you read any good books that your would like to recommend? Please let us know.

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