I’m tired of playing by the rules of someone else’s game...
~ Broadway play ’Wicked’
"Why don’t you be the banker and I’ll distribute the properties", I told my young friend Jeff.
As he counted out the starting bankroll, I casually took a $500 bill and placed it onto the center of the board.
With a quizzical look on his face, Jeff asked, "What are you doing?"
"I’m putting $500 into the ’Free Parking’ pool", I earnestly replied.
"There’s no such thing... you don’t get any money for landing on the ’Free Parking’ space."
A heated argument soon ensued among two 10 year-old boys.
After a prolonged period of back-and-forth debate (well not so much debate... more like "is too / is not") and a small wager of a Jolly Rancher cinnamon stick to the winner... the official rules were finally consulted.
The rules of Monopoly plainly state:
A player landing on Free Parking does not receive any money, property or reward of any kind. This is just a "free" resting-place.
While Jeff felt pretty darn good as the victor in this small battle, I felt betrayed.
Up to this point in my life, I had played perhaps 200-300 games of Monopoly with my mom, brothers and assorted friends and relatives.
Playing board games on the weekends was a staple in our home growing up.
Games like Parcheesi, Trouble, Clue, Life, Battleship, Stratego, and of course Monopoly provided my family with endless hours of cheap entertainment.
My brothers and I actually learned to play many of these games before we learned to read... so we relied on our parents to teach us the objectives and rules of these games (as well as some basic strategies).
What none of us knew at the time was that our mom... perhaps by design or perhaps not... just made up some rules as she saw fit.
Not knowing any better (at the time)... we just thought the rules were "official" and never bothered to question them... whatever mom said was law...
It wasn’t until we ventured out into the world did our ignorance get the better of us.
Soon after my experience with Jeff and the Monopoly debacle, it became apparent to me that I would need to start questioning authority and do my own research as to what the facts were and were not.
No longer could I depend on the word of others... regardless of how trusted they appeared to be.
In order to play the game... I needed to learn the rules of the game... first and foremost!
What I’ve discovered in my great quest for knowledge and understanding is that there are good rules and bad rules.
Good rules help to keep order and establish norms and conventions on how to operate.
Good Rules are intentional and have meaning and purpose. They are consistent not arbitrary or haphazard.
Certain rules help to keep us safe and protected.
They offer us a bit of human morality in doing what is right and just... rules such as the "Golden Rule".
Good rules allow us to play the game on a seemingly level playing field... each with the same opportunity to win... to bring a certain fairness to the competition.
Within the rules however, there is a varying degree of talent, skill, and/or strategy that will ultimately decide the winner and the loser.
In contrast to good rules, bad rules sometimes are present.
Bad rules are weighted as to attempt to tip the balance of fairness favoring one side or another.
Rules that are difficult to define and left to broad interpretation are bad.
Sometimes bad rules are put into place for no discernable reason. These rules are arbitrary, petty and there is no logical explanation as to why they exist. They were created with the expressed purpose of disenfranchising one group in favor of another.
Some of the world’s greatest leaders have been those willing to break the bad rules in order to demonstrate that certain rules are bad and have no place in our society.
People like Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King have used civil disobedience to cast light on these bad rules in an effort to have the bad rules changed.
One of the biggest problems we have in the world today is trying to discern good rules from bad rules.
What might seem like a good rule to one faction might seem equally bad to another. The rules to them are binary and inflexible. There is no room for compromise or trade-offs... it’s an all or nothing proposition.
The workplace once operated in this type of environment.
It wasn’t too long ago that a person worked their entire career at one company.
People arrived to work in their business suits at 9am and went home at 5pm...
They performed their work while residing in a small sterile cubicle using company provided equipment...
Employees were told what to do and how to do it... day in and day out... there were procedures and processes...
...there were rules... lots of them... and they needed to be followed.
No one questioned the rules... they just put their collective heads down and looked busy.
The reward for following the rules for 40 or so years was a mandatory retirement at the relative old age of 65.
...but here’s where things got interesting...
Over the course of the last 30 years... the rules of business have changed as the world has flattened.
No longer can a business rely on being better than their competition simply by having better processes... better productivity... better rules...
In today’s world, efficiency has been replaced with innovation.
Innovation is more about breaking rules rather than following them.
Technology now allowed employees to work remotely... be it from their home in the suburbs, a factory in Mexico, or from a call-center in India.
They work and communicate using their own computers and smart devices. No longer are people concerned with the concept of "working hours" or "work days".
Young employees today have more freedom and fewer workplace rules than ever before and have responded by helping to develop revolutionary new products and services.
Although this new environment is good for some people, many others, who were accustomed to the old rules, really don’t know how to play the game under this new set of rules... or should I say absence of rules.
The world game is rapidly changing... so it is imperative that we learn and adopt the new rules if we hope to succeed.
Thank you for your kind support of OptiFuse where we attempt to break the rules in bringing our customers the innovations that they desire.
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