While playing snakes and ladders with one of our sons, he proceeded to define a set of game rules that were not striclty part of the game. So we played the game with that modified set of rules. Children master the art of imagination. Rarely do they participate in a game where they do not have a say in the rules. It is their game, and they make the rules.
As adults we become more strategic about this. We deliberately allow ourselves to comply with overarching sets of rules in business or personal life that generally position us favourably. But in doing so we also forego something, and the cost of this is not always obvious or immediately apparent. Ever so quietly compliance creates a mindset and culture of perpetuating, and eventually even protecting the status quo. Last week I explored this subject in my post “The most dangerous assumption ever”.
What we forego is a degree of control. Specifically, we forego that level of control which allows new possible outcomes to emerge.
As a design professional I was trained to question pretty well everything, but even that is no safeguard. After a while we become accustomed to challenging ourselves with the same questions.
So how we reclaim that imaginative rule inventing capacity that we had at age 5?
Begin by observing…
What is the underlying “game” in a particular transaction, interaction or relationship?
When we understand the game, the rules will gradually become apparent. And when we know them, we can literally begin to mess around with them, create new possibilities, and have fun doing it!
- What are the rules that you have sub-conciously agreed to play by?
- What other moves would be possible if you ignored those rules?
- What happens if you took the rule and reversed it, or made it the opposite?
- How are the rules impeding of helping your intentions?
- And finally, what is possible you take a rule from another game and apply it here?