Thursday, March 04, 2010

Innovation By Breaking The Rules

There are rules, and there are rules as many pioneers tend to say. Don’t worry, we are not going to break any – for now!

I was reading and article recently that stated that in order to innovate we must challenge or disrupt at least one of the fundamental principles or rules that we operate by in our chosen sector. I thought about this for a while, thinking it might sound radical to some people, and then decided that the statement was perfectly true.

If you just think for a minute or two about all of the rules that we conform to as a) individuals and b) groups then you will be surprised at how long the list is. Your list might start something like:
  • I begin work at 9am and leave at 5pm
  • I only work Monday to Friday
  • I must get my timesheet in by 5pm on Friday
  • Only senior managers can use the car park
  • We must answer the telephone within 5 rings
… and the list goes on. Try creating your list and see how many are a) self imposed b) could be broken without affecting anybody else c) could be broken by everyone to make life better (or improve profitability). What could this new found freedom to act and think give you or our business? Perhaps time to create new products or services or simply improve existing ones. Don’t just ask questions about how you work, ask about industry sector, materials used, supermarkets supplied etc.

We all conform to rules and create boundaries which we then become constrained by for no good reason. Try breaking some rules and see what happens, don’t think of it as breaking rules, just think of it as stretching boundaries. If you are the nervous type who does not want to act and then ask for forgiveness later try telling your boss or colleagues that ‘If we broke rule x or rule y then it would be possible to …’.

And one final thought, if you do not wish to be branded an anarchist, tell people that you are performing Boundary Analysis rather than rule breaking!

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