Not all Rules are Meant to be Broken

Not all Rules are Meant to be Broken

Not all Rules are Meant to be Broken

In anticipation of our Leadership Series with Bob McGannon, we thought we would take our dive into knowing when you can break the rules.  In the simplest of terms, the rules are there for a reason – why would you need to break the rules? Some would argue that innovation often happens when one takes a step outside of the norm, but how do you know when that is? Moreover, how can you make an impact without going too far? Before you set off to break the rules, there are some things to consider.

Know the Rules

You must have an absolute understanding of rules, chain of command, and company policy. Yes, you can't break the rules if you don't know what the rules are, but you should also have a fundamental understanding of WHY these policies are in place.  Don’t expect to break the rules at will and blame it on the need to innovate.  Understand the rules and think of ways you can move ahead without breaking them.  Do your homework before starting down this path. Even then, proceed with caution

Know WHY You are Breaking the Rules

So, you know the rules, and you know why they exist.  Could you defend your absolute need to step outside of those rules?  Because likely you will be asked to explain your actions. Also, there is little chance a claim of your activities being “easier” or “more efficient” is going to get you off the hook. The "why" is the key.  If you have genuinely exhausted all avenues to the solution, and you need to step outside of standard procedure, you will likely be asked to "show your work."

Talk About It

Many will tell you to ask for forgiveness, not permission, but think hard about whether this is one of those times. Even as a business owner, you will have to answer to someone at some point.  Can you have that conversation with a clear conscience? Talking about a solution that steps outside of protocol before it happens is often the best route.  Talking about breaking the rules before doing it might give you a chance to gain more perspective and find a better solution.  Also, think about how you would react if someone on your team did what you are contemplating.

The Rules for Breaking the Rules

Bob McGannon points out that companies NEED intelligent disobedience.  While this is true, it can't be a free-for-all.  The keyword here is "intelligent." Work, progress, and innovation that occurs outside of existing systems should happen with clear understanding and expectations.  Teams need to know what boundaries exist outside of regulations. Also, if this happens regularly, you can benefit from experience and research when it is time to move the goalposts and reset some rules.

Want to hear more from an expert? Join us on September 10th to hear Bob McGannon, author of Intelligent Disobedience: The Difference between Good and Great Leaders, offer his perspective.  Bob McGannon is sure to provide another dynamic and engaging addition to our "Seven Days in Denver" series.

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