Are there Rules?
We all have process, procedures, and practices which we either adhere to or reject, love or hate, eschew or embrace. Typically, success doesn’t hinge exclusively on our ability to follow the rules – but more so on our vision and ability to look beyond a prescriptive path and see strategically where an unexpected next step or divergent but innovative opportunity is represented.
The best innovators do not follow the rules. The most successful techies stray beyond corporate dev guidelines. And creativity was never about coloring within the lines. The heart and soul of creativity knows no bounds and ignores regulation. The verge of inventive freedom has always challenged the norm – whether the revolution of change is duly imminent or brewing for a distant future.
Revered author and playwright Tennessee Williams (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Streetcar Names Desire) – who consistently bucked the norms – stated that “Success and failure are equally disastrous.” I tend to not agree with Tennessee, unless of course he meant (and he very well might have) that success squashes desire for innovation and failure drives the need for further evolution. Meaning, they sometimes prompt the opposite response than one might think. For me, nothing makes me commit more fully to finding the better way than to have failed. I now know what not to do – that is more than I knew before.
Innovation is a tough place to be if you are a stickler for the rules, if you rely on guidelines to show you the way. You must light your own path while shining a spotlight further down the road. Strategy requires a nervous energy that cannot be capped – which must search, discover, and ultimately visualize a different future than the one seemingly set in stone. Stone is not a good medium for innovators or strategic thinkers – stone makes them itch and search for a sledgehammer. Breaking through into discovery requires a desire to ignore conformity.
Raise Your Sledgehammer
The path you choose is usually more of a need than a choice – there appears to be no other way for the innovator or strategist. Gut certainly has a lot to do with it for “gut” is the interesting marriage of wisdom, experience, and intuition and must not be ignored. Ignoring this gift is a death sentence to inventive thought and evolution – the last thing we want is for that edge to up and leave us – clueless and unimaginative.
A few days ago, I heard a presenter use the word clueful. And it made be feel hopeful and wonderful – full of hope and full of wonder.
Full of clues – this is where innovation is born and where strategy plants the walking stick. The way is rocky, but these are the best guides. And most certainly not the expectation.