Cybercrime — theft executed over the internet using ransomware, malware and other malicious online attacks — is predicted to increase by 15% over the coming years. By 2025, Cybercrime Magazine expects cybercriminals to extract as much as $10.5 trillion from unsuspecting victims. That makes cybercrime one of the most efficient and damaging crimes in the world.
What makes these hackers so successful at stealing credit card numbers, sneaking into bank accounts and impersonating innocent shoppers? It’s not their advanced knowledge of coding or knack for developing complex algorithms. It’s their ability to recognize — and capitalize on — opportunities within a system.
What would happen if managers began thinking like hackers?
While illegal hacking is extensively damaging to society, businesses and individuals around the world, there is something to be learned from hackers’ ability to get past sophisticated systems, operate with precision and evade law enforcement.
Traditional management practice is built on a linear way of thinking. Managers are trained to push for productivity, maximize efficiency, lock their focus on a specific set of goals and make decisions following a pre-set process. And overall, this approach has a high success rate. But traditional management can also overlook lucrative opportunities, dampen creativity and slow growth.
Hackers, on the other hand, have an adaptive mindset. They’re continually hunting for new opportunities, shifting their strategy, surveying their environment for weaknesses and untapped potential and embracing change. They’re resourceful, creative and maximize every system they come across.
If managers adopted the mindset of hackers and update their roles, they would be better able to solve issues quickly, stay flexible, evolve with the market, and leverage processes and systems to drive results.
Here’s what we mean:
Skilled hackers solve problems with creative ease
Hackers have the unique ability to solve complex problems creatively, even if they don’t possess the actual skills needed to carry out the solution themselves. By using their resourcefulness and out-of-the-box thinking to navigate systems, overcome obstacles and break through barriers, they can reach their key objectives quickly and efficiently.
If managers traded rigid processes and established business norms for unconventional solutions, they could better tap into their teams’ full creative potential. They could embrace challenges as opportunities for innovation. And they could apply their creative mindset to identifying vulnerabilities, devising effective strategies to compensate for those vulnerabilities and exploring new avenues that had previously been missed.
While managers may focus on processes, hackers are focused, but flexible
Traditional management approaches often prioritize strict processes, procedures and hierarchical decision-making over dynamism and innovation.
While this approach does have merit, and organization is key to keeping growing companies streamlined, it can sometimes hinder adaptability and limit your teams’ ability to respond to change.
On the other hand, hackers have a focused-but-flexible mindset that keeps a single objective in view, but helps them stay agile in their approach.
By embracing this aspect of a hacker’s problem-solving mentality, managers can better balance flexibility and structure. Their team can have the processes it needs to stay on track while maintaining the creative space necessary for ideation, invention and adaptation.
Mature companies may struggle to keep up with market shifts, but hackers are constantly evolving
In today’s fast-paced, interconnected world, quick market shifts can catch mature companies off guard. These companies with overly rigid hierarchies, dated processes, and change resistance may struggle to adapt quickly to new threats and opportunities.
Hackers, however, are accustomed to thriving in dynamic environments where they’re forced to evolve their strategies and techniques to stay one step ahead.
By adopting this proactive approach to success, managers can encourage their teams to learn continuously, improve quickly, watch for trends and leverage the latest tools available to them. Instead of watching opportunities pass them by, these forward-thinking teams can begin to recognize emerging trends long before the competition catches on.
Hackers develop systems and processes to minimize mistakes and increase organization
While it may seem like hackers have exceptional technical skills and computer science knowledge, often that’s not the case. These individuals simply understand the systems, processes and methodologies needed to act quickly, minimize errors, avoid unnecessary risks and multiply their success.
Similarly, managers who take on a hacker mentality can implement their own effective systems and processes, built on feedback, quick improvements and careful risk management. They can even encourage the use of project management tools and collaboration techniques to keep their team focused on mission-critical activities and locked in on key objectives. Methodologies like agile or lean project management, and online project management systems, can help these teams plan their projects, reduce waste and improve performance at every level.
If your business has lost its energetic spark, try embracing the hacker mentality
Startups often achieve remarkable growth by embracing a hacker-style mindset early on in their growth journey. But as the company expands, so do the inflexible processes, systems and sticking points. The scrappy attitude that gave the startup early momentum can soon give way to sluggish growth and slow turns.
Instead of solely chasing shareholder value, maximum efficiency or growth at all costs, try experimenting with flexibility, dynamic thinking and creative ideation. Because future-focused companies — those built for changing times — are increasingly embracing both their hacker mentality and structured growth.
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