Our education systems and culture teach us the ‘rules’ of various disciplines. This continues from primary school all the way up to getting a PhD. Compliance is often that which is rewarded.
Therefore it is no wonder most organisations are filled with people who follow the rules. People who are experts in the rules of their discipline. And thus, “no, you can’t do that because of rule 18.4 subsection 3B” is not uncommon to hear. The underlying assumption many have is that our job is to keep the organisation safe; to protect it. And that we protect it by following the rules.
Unfortunately many conversations end there. It’s easy to wonder why we even put the word ‘innovation’ or ‘change’ in any of our job advertisements.
And then we stumble across her. Her response is similar to others, ‘Sorry, we can’t do that because of rule 18.4 subsection 3B,’ however, she doesn’t stop there. She carries on with ‘if we do it this way, I think we can achieve what you are wanting.’ Other times, she says, ‘help me understand what you want and then give me a few hours to explore options.’ She is worth her weight in gold. We desperately need people like her in all departments, especially in legal, finance, HR. Seek them out, befriend them.
But don’t stop there. Pay attention to the words you use. How often do you say no and stop there? Is it somewhat easy to become an expert, however knowing when and how to break the rules is art. And yes, art rarely ‘works’ on the first try. Art is a skill to learn, but one you you can always get better at. Even if you are a ‘master’. And the act of creating art, always comes with caveat ‘this might not work’. But we need artists more than ever.
The choice is up to you. You can stay an expert in rule 18.4 or you can become are artist. What will you choose?