Break the Rules and Disrupt!

Creativity and innovativeness are dying. We are collectively amazed by Uber and its likes but we end up as part of the problem. Do we even notice what is restricting our thoughts? We have rules, laws and corporate policies for everything. And we are getting comfortable with them. Comfortable to the point that we no longer realize the stupidity of being guided all the time.

I visited the library and needed to use the men’s room. On the door there was a sign saying: “Pull the handle to open, library card is not needed”. Do we not know how to operate such a simple construct as a door and a handle?

Killing Disruptive Innovation

On top of laws and acts by public authorities, any organization creates their own beliefs on how things must be done. And often that conformance to rules and beliefs is considered sensible. “Nothing kills an idea faster than common sense!” says Luke Williams, the author of Disrupt. Salvador Dali put it even better: “It is good taste, and good taste alone that possesses the power to sterilize, and is always the first handicap to any creative functioning”. Common sense and good taste are change resistance in disguise.

Unless someone all the time relentlessly challenges the status quo, there is less and less space to innovate and be creative. Walls get closer and the ceiling lower. It is so easy to say what not to do, but we need to learn to say “what if” without the fear of consequences, without limiting ourselves with our beliefs.

Innovation Stretches Boundaries

If AirBnB’s developers would have checked all the legal stuff before dreaming about a global consumer to consumer service, the whole business would not exist. But they took a risk. And the fact that their business model is being investigated by authorities here and there is not stopping them – it’s creating publicity for them, free publicity.

“Common sense and good taste are change resistance in disguise”

Even authorities themselves stretch the boundaries. The Finnish Customs is a good example. It is occasionally stopping alcohol shipments to consumers and inserting instructions reminding the consumers to pay duties. Clever way to collect more tax money as by law this is not the consumer’s responsibility.

Breaking the rules is actually not a haphazard act. It is often a known, carefully planned and well executed job. Seeing things differently requires a mindset of rebellion. And curiosity. And perseverance. On the doorstep of digital era those qualities are very much needed.

A lot of existing rules and beliefs are reflections of the past business paradigms. Digitalization creates turmoil. If you get too comfortable with status quo, someone else will rewrite the rules and take away your business.