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Strategy & Innovation

If Rules Aren't Meant To Be Broken Surely We Can Bend Them A Little

Posted by on 14 March 2017
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Some time ago I listened to Bill Gates talk about philanthropy, education and innovation on Radio National and remember being delighted by the announcer's closing
statement, "To draw more people into thinking big and outside the square,
we must change how we teach". That means teaching everyone from school children to the elderly that it's OK to MAKE
and it's OK TAKE A CHANCE. In case you are wondering, my keyboard isn't stuck
on caps lock and yes I am shouting. Of
course, the best risk takers are the ones who have nothing to lose... I have never really met a rule. Rules control behaviour. Not that I'm an advocate for unruly and socially unacceptable behaviour either. I simply (some would say naively) believe that if we all came from a place of respect and kindness we wouldn't need a formal set of rules.

A few years ago
we went with several other families on a camping holiday for a long weekend. This
holiday location was full of signs that started with DON'T!

Don't Ride
Disturb Other Guests
Leave Your Rubbish...

You get the
picture? We were on the lookout for the "Don't Have Fun" sign. As you
could perhaps imagine, there were several comments made about the Nazi like strict operations of the park. We couldn't contain our laughter
when the Park Supervisor appeared on a small moped with a helmet like Schultz
used to wear in Hogan's Heroes. There are
a couple of entrepreneurs with colourful "Oops I think I accidentally on purpose broke the rules" stories that I admire and have one of those "oh I wish that had been me" moments over.

Sara Blakely is the founding CEO of Spanx, a hosiery
brand.She launched the brand from her home and it's now worth over $1Billion. The story goes that Nieman Marcus, a US department store,
agreed to stock Spanx (well the buyers did) and try the range out with its
customers. They tucked the product up the back of the store, keeping the big
names in the prominent point of sale positions. Sara
Blakely took herself off to Target and visited the hardware section where she
purchased a quantity of metal shelving. Somehow this metal shelving found
itself at Nieman Marcus, near the front of the registers. Miraculously, the
shelves were soon occupied by Spanx hosiery. The only reason the
"ghost who installs shelves and stocks them with Spanx" was
identified, was because Sara Blakely was caught on CCTV.

Walt Disney was told not to make a hero out of a mouse because women would be frightened! He was told never to mix animated characters with actors. He was told people would never sit through an animated feature film. Walt Disney was always told what not to do. And he did it anyway.

Dorsey (Twitter), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Steve Jobs (Apple) were all
risk takers and they all broke Rules. They challenged the status quo and
jumped (at times leapt) outside the square.

Happy crawling, hopping, jumping,

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