Rules are fascinating things. At their core, they are designed to restrict behaviour to what Is deemed acceptable, safe, desirable. In other words, they are a device for enforcing uniform behaviour.
In a fast-changing world, uniform behaviour is a liability. We no longer work on an assembly line where our personal outcomes need to be precision-engineered to fit the next widget make down the line. In fact, we’re not even sure what the widget is going to look like anymore.
Rule breakers have always been despised. Cast as anti-social, disruptive, undesirable. That is until they are acceptable. At which point they become known as mavericks: a kind of neer-do-well that none the less makes money and has therefore achieved some degree of respectability.
However, as technology continues to accelerate the pace of change to near light speed, following the rules is no longer desirable, it is well-nigh a liability!
Rules presuppose a pattern, which is based on constant values that can be predicted. When change becomes as rapid as it is already, there are very few constants and rules end up producing more of what WAS required, which implies producing very little of what IS required.
This is why so many innovators and innovations come from left field, from somewhere where the rules do not hold or are simply not applied. This is why, to embrace innovation and change, the rules need to be largely ignored, or at least applied with a very light hand. We need to acknowledge that they were built for a time that has passed.
A current example of this is how current management (mostly Gen X-ers) react to so-called Millennials in the workplace… there are rules! You have to work x amount of years before you can get y-reward etc. etc. this is a kind rule-based thinking that insists that you have to pay your dues, that value cannot be realised over the short term and that long term commitments and solutions are what gets rewarded.
Kind of ironic when you consider what bad assed mavericks all us Gen Xers are supposed to be, right?
But actually, everything can change in a heartbeat today and the people driving those changes and adaptations should be rewarded accordingly. Reward four outcomes and solutions, not for hours put in.
As a result of this ossified response to reward and promotion, many companies are losing bright young minds by sticking to the rule book of remuneration and reward.
The easiest way to move past outdated processes, products, systems and ideas is to break the rules under which these things were generated and run. Just do what you’re NOT supposed to do for a while.
You may not find the best way forward in a heartbeat, but you will break the pattern of repetition that is keeping you mired in your current situation. You will encourage your colleagues to start taking responsibility for their actions instead of hiding behind rules… in short, we might stand a chance of doing better… at everything!