Could you use an Institutional Hack?

“Institutional Hack” is a delicious, contradictory new phrase for me. Paul Miller (of the School of Everything and from time to the think tank Demos) used it earlier today in this post on his personal blog.

At first you might think an Institutional Hack is one of those cynical folk, the type who’s skill, energy and expertise is focussed on working the politics of their organisation principally for personal gain.Not so. Paul’s idea is the opposite.

His “institutional hack” is the the bold, adventurous action which can cut through the atrophied arteries of organisation. Paul uses it to praise a group of people who have invented just such a hack for the key issue of how government innovates.

The Open Innovation Exchange is a loose coalition of organsiations and individuals who got together to bid for a £1.2 million pound government contract. Their innovation has been to eschew conventional commercial wisdom and collaborate online and in public to write their bid. (Just think about that for a moment!)
Yes that’s right, their competitiors could watch what they were doing. Their competitiors could take their best ideas and use them themselves.

The genius of the approach is that everyone and anyone is welcome to contribute, in this case drawing ideas and input from hundreds of minds, a refreshing and energising alternative to the more normal bid written behind closed doors. It all happens in the open, so credit is clear and credit is shared, hopefully generating a virtuos cycle of generosity with knowledge and ideas. If they win the collaboration goes many steps further. The bid says that one of the first things they’ll do is talk to their competitiors.

I’ve written about this elsewhere, exploring whether this is a New Model or New Madness (the link also takes you to a short audio interview with one of the team).

But here I simply want to come back to Paul Miller’s notion and ask you how could your aims benefit from the spirit of the “institutional hack”?
This was first posted here.  Thanks for the reference.
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