What do you think of when you hear the word “hacker”? Maybe you visualize a hooded figure in a dark room with light emanating from a screen of code on a laptop? Or do you picture movies where someone has to break into the enemy computer system to steal encrypted data?
The first scenario with the dark figure is an exaggerated representation of only a small percentage of hackers. The classic plot point from action or spy movies is a dramatization of hacking and rarely happens, if ever.
In reality, hacking is a problem solving tactic. It may be forever tainted with a negative connotation, but it’s actually a system for innovation and iteration. Hacking means to build and test, pushing boundaries along the way. While this can be used for malicious activity, hacking itself isn’t inherently bad.
You may be surprised to hear that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is actually a hacker, and has cultivated the “Hacker Way” into Facebook’s culture and management. Because most hackers are idealistic people with positive dispositions, some of Facebook’s best products were a result of hacking.
To be more specific, hackers develop code and build prototypes to test. After testing, they analyze the data and tweak their programs. They repeat this process until the desired outcome. No time is wasted setting up meetings or putting a cohesive project together. The trial-and-error method can start with the basics.
In the case of Facebook, hackers quickly release and get insights from smaller, targeted iterations of services. This is more efficient than trying to do everything all at once, because it’s easier to control and makes it possible to focus on one or few things at a time. It is also in this way that startups and entrepreneurs can get their feet off the ground.
Due to their problem-solving nature, hackers can be looked to for guidance and tips when it comes to resolving issues. Whether in the workplace or at home, the same strategies can be used across most problems. For example, preparing for the worst case scenario and trying multiple solutions are tactics you can employ when facing an obstacle.
For more advice like this, see the infographic below. Panda Security compiled direct quotes and actionable tips from hackers themselves. Some are fictitious, some are criminal hackers, and others are simply tech-savvy individuals with knowledge of hacking. Nonetheless, their observations and wisdom can help you problem solve like a hacker.