Day One of Hack Your Bureaucracy

Nick Sinai
4 min readSep 13, 2022

[By Nick Sinai and Marina Nitze]

We’re excited to announce that Hack Your Bureaucracy goes on sale today! Order yours here or wherever you buy books. They make great gifts, too!

It’s a cliche that writing a book takes a village — because it does. We can attest that book publishing professionals (agent, development editor, copy editor, marketer, publicist, etc.) are incredibly valuable. But even more critical, for us, were the colleagues, friends, and family that provided the right level of support and critical feedback along the way. Thank you!

We start our book with the story of President Obama calling out Marina in a Cabinet meeting for not shipping software at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs fast enough.

Based on the discussion in that meeting, Marina had a startling epiphany: even the leader of the free world couldn’t change an intractable bureaucracy (the VA) from the top. This didn’t stop Marina from continuing her mission of improving veterans’ lives by giving them better access to the benefits and services they earned. But it meant she was going to have to figure out how the VA — and her fellow VA employees — really worked.

We carry that idea throughout the book: change is possible, even in the most challenging of environments. But you can’t wait for others to do it for you — not even those at the top who seem to have the most power. It’s up to you and the people you build authentic relationships with to navigate through, and ultimately change, the bureaucracy for the better.

Why Hack Your Bureaucracy?

In our new book, Hack Your Bureaucracy, we describe over 55 hacks to get stuff done, whether you are inside (or alongside) a corporation, university, or government agency. They also work closer to home, like in your homeowner’s association or PTA.

Some of our tactics are simple: don’t waste a crisis, think of the end at the beginning, pick up the pen, and do the work outside the meeting. Others are perhaps less intuitive: make your job, give credit liberally, and stab people in the chest. We explain each hack and pair it with an entertaining story.

We’ve organized these hacks into six major themes:

DEFINE THE PROBLEM: Discover what you should really be working on.

LEARN YOUR ORG: Figure out how things really work and get to know the people in your bureaucracy.

PITCH THE SOLUTION: Sell your ideas in context.

START SMALL AND BUILD MOMENTUM: Experiment, learn, and show progress.

BUILD YOUR TEAM: Bureaucracy hacking is a team sport.

MAKE IT STICK: Ensure your initiative will last beyond any single individual by changing the rules.

If you are trying to accomplish seemingly impossible reforms, Hack Your Bureaucracy will show you how to get started at defining the root causes of your problems, sell your vision, recruit a team, build momentum, and make lasting change.

Alongside our own stories, we offer tried and true bureaucracy-hacking strategies to steer companies and organizations of all kinds, gathered from our fellow bureaucracy hackers who drove change in some of the world’s toughest, largest, and most complex environments.

We wrote this book for the millions of leaders, managers, and employees around the globe who see the hype about fast-paced start-up culture and wonder how it might be relevant to their slowing-moving, risk-averse company or organization, as well as for those feeling stuck in frustrating bureaucracies in their personal lives, like PTAs, neighborhood groups, and condo associations.

Whether you are starting your career, mid-career, or a senior executive, our book, Hack Your Bureaucracy, gives you practical, actionable tools to break through the red tape and status quo that are holding you back. The most powerful change in an organization comes from within.

Change is possible, even in the most challenging of environments. But no one else is coming to save the day. It’s up to you.

Buy the book here or wherever you get books.




Nick Sinai

Senior Advisor at Insight Partners; Adjunct Faculty at Harvard; former US Deputy CTO at White House; Author of Hack Your Bureaucracy