Rules are killing innovation: Four brilliant ways to unshackle your staff


Staff are getting bogged down. Blast away office rules and see the ideas flow

When examining how reports, policies and meetings can challenge an employees creativity, Lisa Bodell found that structures used to grow a business often prevent leaders reaching their potential.

She found that:

  • 40% of managers spend their time writing reports
  • 30% to 60% of their time is spent in coordination meetings

The Kill a Stupid Rule tool created at Futurethink is used to snap teams out of complacency. It identifies the rules and procedures that should be eliminated to make room for more innovative, productive work.

The exercise comprises the following four methods:

  • Bring employees from different departments together and break them down into teams of two or three
  • Ask each group to write their thoughts on “how stupid rules that get in the way of serving customers and doing your job can be changed or killed”
  • Ask each person to write down the rule they hate the most and illustrate the results on a graph. Axis Y represents how easy or difficult the rule is to kill and Axis X to represents the business impact – low to high – of killing the rule. You will see that the most irritating rules keep reappearing
  • Have employees vote on which should be eliminated

Bodell concludes that sometimes innovation isn’t about starting things – it is about stopping things that get in our way. The Kill a Stupid Rule tool can help managers and their teams assess which tasks or rules are needed and which are not.