The big news this past week was the Facebook IPO. In the initial public prospectus there was a lot of emphasis on the “hacker way” at Facebook. The hacker way is:
“…an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it – often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo. Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words `Done is better than perfect’ painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.[emphasis added]” (from “Zuckerberg describes the hacker way at Facebook, published at the Huffington Post)
Although hackers tend to have a negative reputation, there is something to be learned from constantly questioning and challenging ourselves and our work. I got to thinking how can we hack HR? Applying the ethos described above I came up with a couple ideas:
- Tear up your policy manual – literally. Take it and tear it up and then think about how you would re-write the policies if you were starting from ground zero. Obviously there is some stuff that may stay standard (legal compliance stuff) but everything else is fair game. Always struggling with the attendance policy? Ask yourself first if you even need it, if you do think about how you can re-write this to actually work with your employees and the company. Remember many times we run into the problem of writing a policy for one exception, so keep that exception out of your thoughts when you are hacking the policy manual.
- Look at the status quo processes you have going on and figure out how to make them better. Take a look at the technology/systems you are using, what drives you crazy about them? Contact the vendor, your IT department and create some work arounds.
- Volunteer – looking to get the company moving forward on social media? Volunteer the HR department to be the guinea pigs. (For more info on this check out Project Social HR and Jay Kuhns excellent blog No Excuses HR). Do you believe wiki’s or a Facebook like social community will help foster communication across the enterprise? Don’t wait for the IT department to roll it out, set up a wiki just for your team. Once the rest of the company sees how much fun the HR team is having they will want one of their own.
Now that you’ve hacked your way through the HR department and cleaned up the dead policies and processes on the floor, now comes the hard part. SHIP IT. The hardest part is to ship out the product especially if we know this is high priority, game-changing stuff. When you go to hack your HR department it is game changing but don’t let the fear of failure keep you down. Get out there and ship.