The Top Two Rules of Innovation

Innovation doesn’t just happen – there are rules that make the impossible possible.  What are those rules?

Toady we look at the two most important rules and a good case study.

The Top Two Rules

  1. Disruptive Rule #1: Anything is Possible – Great Leaders Never Give Up.
  2. Disruptive Rule #2: Anything is Possible – Great Leaders Take the Appropriate Action to Guarantee the Win.

These two rules are often intertwined and prove critical for business leaders looking to disrupt the market in this crazy age of rapid and radical change.  The application to business can be seen in a radical upset this weekend in college  football.

RulesofInnovationThe Challenge

Michigan State came to Lincoln, Nebraska undefeated, ranked #7 in the country and looking forward to playing for the conference and possibly national championship. Meanwhile, Nebraska was reeling with their worst record in 50 years. Few were predicting the Huskers could stay with the Spartans.

But Nebraska believed Disruptive Rule #1 and came to play. They scored first and played it close into the fourth quarter. It was then that Michigan State started to pull away, as the pundits expected. With just over two minutes to play, MSU was up by 12 points, 38-28.

The game should have been decided.  Michigan State needed only to abide by Disruptive Rule #2.

Maybe that is why MSU went into a prevent defense. After all, they were known for their stellar defense and NU needed two touchdowns to win.  With that combination, the victory would be secured.

Meanwhile, Nebraska knew they had to do what many considered “impossible.” They had lost 4 games on the last play, 5 games by a margin of 5 points. They had to disrupt their recent pattern and the “here we go again” mindset.

To the surprise of many, Nebraska drove the field, moving the ball easily against that famed defense, scoring a touchdown to close the gap to 38-33 with just two minutes to go. They go for 2 but MSU holds.matterhorn-944

  • Nebraska still needed to believe in Disruptive Rule #1.
  • Michigan State still needed to believe in Disruptive Rule #2.

NU attempted an onside kick but MSU recovered. Michigan State needed only one first down to force Nebraska to use all their time outs and then the game would be over. A #7 team with a powerful running attack is expected to so that.

Michigan State was successful in forcing Nebraska to burn all of their time outs. Unfortunately they were not able to get the first down.

So MSU punts, leaving NU on their own 9 yard line with 55 seconds left in the game. It didn’t look good for the Huskers but they are still clinging to Rule #1. Surely MSU could prevent Nebraska from driving 91-yards in 55 seconds with no time outs. Surely they would follow Rule #2.

It is in these situations where great leaders disrupt their thinking. Those trying to hold the lead need to disrupt their thinking that the game is already won. Those trying to come from behind must disrupt the thinking that they are doomed and success is impossible.

Great leaders disrupt conventional thinking.

Nebraska again moved the ball with ease, shredding the MSU defense with two passes of about 30 yards. But then, with only about 25 seconds left, NU’s quarterback launches a ball into the end zone, directly into the hands of a MSU player. What appeared to be another heartbreaking interception was dropped, giving NU another chance.

Sometimes strange things happen when we keep believing and working.

On the very next play, a NU receiver is covered closely, there is contact and both step out of bounds. The MSU player falls to the ground and the NU receiver reenters the field, catches the ball and falls into the end zone for an apparent touchdown. There is a discussion on the field, an official review from the booth, and it is declared a TOUCHDOWN. The 2 point conversion fails but NU leads, 39-38.

Sometimes miracles happen. Sometimes we get the call when we believe and keep working.

But great leaders know the game is not over until time has run out. Just as they switch control of the ball, both teams trade their thinking. Nebraska has to preserve the win and Michigan State has to do what many consider “impossible.”

PossibleMSU had 17 seconds left. They return the short kickoff to great field position, make a completion and have the ball on the Nebraska 41 with 7 seconds left. Despite Nebraska’s “impossible” comeback, MSU now has their opportunity to win. After all, on this same field, BYU pulled off a last second “Hail Mary” pass to defeat Nebraska in the season opener. But MSU just needed a field goal. They could make one quick completion and then attempt a game winning field.

The ball was snapped, the quarterback dropped back, but the receivers were covered. He was bumped, adjusted and then threw the ball out of bounds. Unfortunately, while the ball was in the air, the clock hit zero. Game over. Nebraska had pulled off the seemingly “impossible” upset and Michigan State had suffered what one reporter claimed was the worst loss of the coaches’ tenure.

Is it Really Over?

Disruptive leaders know that there is always a next week, next year or simply next time. We learn from the past but don’t let that history dictate our future. For NU, they pulled off the upset. Now they need to win the last two games to build a pattern of success to salvage this season and build toward next year. If they return to their losing ways, this was a great win but really just a fluke. However, if they continue winning, this game marked a breakthrough, illustrating their true potential.  There is hope and opportunity.   

Meanwhile, Michigan State still has an opportunity to win the rest of their games, play for the conference championship and possibly compete for the national championship. By winning out, this loss will be interpreted as a close loss, not revealing a fatal flaw. There is hope opportunity .

Each team, like great leaders, has the power to disrupt their future, sensing and seizing incredible opportunities. The question is, “Will they remember Disruptive Rule #1 and #2?”

Your Challenge

As a business, civic or self-leader, you are seeking to disrupt the world.

  • When you face seemingly impossible challenges, remember Disruptive Rule #1.
  • When you have a hot streak and everything seems to be going our way and you are tempted to let up just a bit, remember Rule #2. 

3D PWR Tip of the Day:  Remember that disruption has rules.  Play by those rules. 

(c) 2015 Murfield International, Inc.

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Dr. Loren Murfield works with aspiring and emerging leaders so they can leverage their power to do what followers and critics think is impossible. This often involves working with them to develop their disruptive ideas and write their stories of rapid and radical change. How could you leverage your leadership power by sharing your story of disruption? Contact Dr. Murfield today.9 Critical Components

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