3 Ways To Help Your Team Break Rules And Innovate

Most executives recognize that innovation is the very cornerstone of any successful enterprise. However, rebel corporate leaders understand that effective innovating isn't always about a major organizational transformation or bringing a revolutionary product to market. True rebels know that innovation is not a single event or milestone; it's a fundamental business culture that's nurtured from the top down - and by its very nature, it's deeply rooted in the fine art of rule-breaking.

Rule-Breaker And Troublemaker Are Not Interchangeable Terms

Many people associate rule-breakers with troublemakers – but inherent corporate mutineers see that rule-breaking, when done with purpose, often serves as innovation in disguise, finding alternate paths (and surprising results) where others simply see a dead end. You'll find glorious examples of this type of rule-breaking innovation everywhere throughout corporate history. It's the engineers who first invented bubble wrap as an odd (very unpopular) wallpaper fashioned from shower curtains before recognizing its tremendous packing and shipping value. Or, 3M's infamous "permitted bootlegging" policy, which sanctions secretly organized innovation sessions amongst colleagues during working time (ultimately leading to the advent of modern-day Post-It Notes).

Developing A Team Dynamic That Revels In Innovation

Sometimes, the best ideas come from the top. However, as 3M's bootlegging practices prove, more often than not, a company's most innovative leaps are driven from various levels and departments in the organization, making developing, encouraging, and sustaining a culture of results-driven rule-breaking a must. Here are three ways to help make that happen:

Go Beyond The Obvious

Help your team expand their definition of innovation beyond grand-scale, client-facing initiatives to include smaller factors like process, business model, and brand engagement. In short, continuously remind your team that even the most granular details can make a significant impact.

Resist Complacency

Encourage your team to question everything. Make everything fair game for consistent reevaluation - even the things that seem to bring you success right now. Fostering an environment that refuses complacency not only demonstrates that there's always a better, faster, or more efficient way to do pretty much anything but it can also keep you ahead of industry trends, uniquely positioning your company to withstand the next marketplace disruption.

Create A Blame-Free Workplace

Finally, to truly encourage rule-breaking and innovation, establish a blame-free workplace environment. Rather than finger-pointing every time something doesn't go according to plan, promote ownership and accountability. Prioritizing blameless transparency allows your team to freely create and make mistakes without fear of being criticized or judged for not getting it right the first (or even second, third or fourth) time.

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