Hackers Gonna Hack

Hackers, and we use the word here as defined by Paul Graham and others before him, are gonna hack. By nature, a hacker will have the tendency to poke break things and their trains of thought will often be driven by the phrase I wonder if, as illustrated by Randall Munroe in this neat XKCD strip.A hacker mindset is one of experimentation and learning, an outlook that values process over outcome and knowledge over deliverables. Although this may seem counter-productive when approached from a traditional business mindset, if fostered, this attitude can quickly become the backbone of a SME.

Research and Development

As a startup ourselves, we always looked to hire hackers. We favoured code over resumes and community involvement over industry certifications. We not only tolerated the hacker mindset, we encouraged it. We like it when our programmers build stuff. We have our projects of course, and we do have deliverables, but the atmosphere inside the company allows for innovation outside our core products and services. Our programmers routinely contribute to FOSS projects and we’ve often ended up using their hobby code in company solutions. They power are our R&D.Even if their side projects never contributed to the company though, we’d still encourage them. Why? Because for hackers, building stuff is a reflex action. It’s a part of the process that makes them who they are. As Mark Zuckerberg puts it, hackers build stuff because they like building things, and that’s not something which everyone gets.We do – hackers gonna hack.Sometimes it can lead to good code, sometimes it can lead to a fix or a new way of doing things, and sometimes it can lead to nothing.But that’s all right. We encourage this process because in the end every small business is in the business of building things, whether they’re products, services or relationships.