Is it time to break the rules?Building Innovative Practices in Your Organizations

What rules need to be broken?

I’m really not a rebel. I don’t defy authority because I want my own way or hate obeying. Actually, I find life goes better when everyone follows the rules. But when it comes to doing what we have never done before, well, often times the rules hold us back. That can’t happen if we are serious about disruptive innovation.

This is the fourth post in a series about building a cutting-edge culture to create a radical transformation. You might be interested in the previous posts on sharing your cutting edge vision and Developing a Collaborative Spirit. In this post I want you to understand how to create innovative practices that foster a team mindset of disruption. That is no small task.

Murfield Coaching solves significant problems through innovative thinking. To solve those problems, we have to do things differently. It starts by magnifying your unique value, not replicating what others do. That requires a paradigm shift, i.e. innovative thinking to solve significant problems. Our clients most appreciate our emphasis on building employee engagement, alleviating employee trauma, and unleashing disruptive innovation. We know from our research that innovation occurs most often within a cutting-edge organizational culture.  It’s not just talent, it takes a cohesive team.

It Starts with Rules – Breaking Them!

I have to admit, I’m conflicted. In many ways, I’ve been a rule follower until I found that many of the rules did more harm than good. It was when I started ignoring and breaking the rules that I started seeing innovative success.

For many, that is a radical move for three reasons.

First, we all break the rules but often for the wrong reason. We break the rules because we don’t want to follow them. It makes life to structures or difficult. So we do it our way.

The problem with that is we really aren’t breaking the rules to do something better. We just want to do it our way. That is enjoyable but not necessarily productive.

Second, breaking organizational rules often indicates a malcontent employee that needs to be monitored. Most don’t want to be that employee.

Third, obedience is so very important in corporate but in all organizations. Compliance is the easiest and often the only way to survive. Unfortunately, compliance kills creativity. After all, organizations work best when there is a clear process for operation. Yet there is seldom a process for breaking the rules. It is so far outside the boundaries of an organizational strategy that they haven’t created a process for it. Therefore, they don’t foster a cutting-edge culture.

If you want to breakthrough, maybe it is time you started breaking some of the rules for the right reasons.

  • Do you have a protocol for breaking rules in order to innovate?
  • Do you punish those who want to innovate and break a rule?

Which Rules?

Maybe the most important note to make here is that they know what rules to ignore. Examine an innovative culture, and you will find that innovative organizations have very few rules because they understand creative individuals needs the freedom to work “outside the box” and to redesign the box.


Artists have been known for redesigning the box for centuries. But Banksy and other graffiti arts have taken it to a new level by ignoring public rules.

First, they defy the convention of using private spaces by utilizing public walls. It is called graffiti and dismissed by many as defacing public or private property. They didn’t ask permission and that rankles many. Over time, the public has come to appreciate their skill and message.

Which rules do you need to break concern where you do business?

You might recognize the artwork below by Banksy that became the most appreciated art in all of Great Britain in 2017.

Second, the “graffiti” artists also defy social rules and take on controversial issues that polite society or politically correct factions won’t condone. Banksy and his cohorts often criticize political actions, war, greed and even animal rights.

They break the rules to start a discussion that helps us see the world in a new way. While that is often considered progressive, even those artists challenge the progressive viewpoint.

What rules do you need to break about controversial issues?

Third, Banksy is fascinating because he has kept his identity a secret. That is unheard of in the “Build your brand and make your money” mindset we live in. But imagine the freedom that comes with voicing your messages in pictures and never having to constrict your subject matter.

That is a critical point.

There is an old saying that a person can do a great deal of good if they don’t care who get’s credit. Interestingly enough, the original author of that quote is not known even though many get the credit.

Which rules do you need to break about who gets credit?

Imagine fostering these three aspects of breaking rules in your organization. Yeah, that would be a shock right? Anonymous people raising controversial issues in public spaces. That would likely create chaos.

But then imagine if you had a process that fostered that innovative thinking, openly embracing the challenge that might just provide the desired breakthrough. Wouldn’t that be worth the discomfort of someone breaking the rules?

We each have incredible opportunities in the rapidly and radically changing world. Often times, to realize the best opportunities, we have to break the rules.

  • Are you willing to break the rules?
  • If so, which ones?
  • Are you breaking those rules for the right reason?

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(c) 2019 Murfield International, Inc.




Loren Murfield, Ph.D.

I enjoy helping individuals develop their dreams into innovative realities.   Contact us today to begin building your disruptive vision and the cutting-edge culture that will solve significant problems.

Start learning how you can engage employees during their most traumatic moments in our newly revised and just-released book, “The ROI of COMPASSION.” Watch for the formal release of our new book, “Leading with the Power of Compassion” in late 2019. (Soft release at the SHRM19 conference in June.)

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