The M-Prize for Innovation: Hacking work


Screenshot of the hack creation pageSubmissions to the Harvard Business Review/McKinsey M-Prize for Innovation closed July 18. For close to two months, management practitioners, consultants and professors have been posting their work hacks and stories of experimenting with radical management practices to share with the community, gather feedback, and perhaps gain recognition. This is hacking in the best sense: The application of a disruptive idea, radical fix, or experimental design into the work setting.

Hacking work is both the title of a book and descriptive of a growing movement. Transparency and greater control are growing organizational norms so it should not be surprising that people are taking advantage of their increased insight and opportunity to make work better, both for themselves and their colleagues.

There are close to 130 M-Prize stories/case studies and hacks on offer as I write this. That’s more than 130 people (as some have been submitted by author teams) spending many hours thinking and writing about how to make work better. The Management Innovation Exchange (MIX) community that supports the prize practices what many of us preach: For organizational projects to succeed, human motivations, technology support, and organizational practices must all be brought to bear. Just creating a website to share ideas would never have been enough to create this kind of interest and effort.

I had the chance to see the process firsthand when I was invited to join the pilot “hackathon” focused on enabling communities of passion. The idea of the hackathon grew out of feedback to the MIX leadership that working individually wasn’t enough — that the results would be better if there were a way to make a collective contribution. Across the weeks of the hackathon we worked through focusing questions, challenges, mini-hacks, and discussion, guided by Chris Grams, our “MIX Guide.” We then took the big step and transformed many of these mini-hacks into M-Prize submissions. I know that without this process and support I would not have submitted my hack (on the topic of leading by negotiation).

Programming / coding hackathons are popular:

Here’s to using that same hackathon energy and hacking techniques to improve our work process. For more, see the hacks and stories submitted for the M-Prize, check out this Hacking Work Manifesto, or better yet, create and share your own hack.

If you’ve created a hack, or find one in the M-Prize submissions that you think is especially valuable, please share it with us here.



Terri, I hope you and readers will read our Hack and connect with us about bringing a values-enabled software movement to life.

The Hack experience inspired us to reach beyond our product, into the visioning of a movement; into the worlds of partners and customers. We created our Hack using our very own collaboration tool. The experience has been extremely rewarding and insightful. Fingers crossed we will be invited to continue on July 28th!

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