Thinking for a change part one – playing with the rules

  • thinking for a changeChange is the only constant.
  • Innovate or die.
  • Fortune favours the bold.

No doubt you’ve heard all of these before. They’re noble sentiments, but ultimately a bit useless when you find yourself confronted with a very real, very turbulent, and very unpredictable 300ft giant tsunami of change.

Think about a time when you’ve been faced with change as scary as that. Perhaps you’re in this position right now. Are you feeling bold, or burnt-out? Inventive, or introverted? Ready for change, or desperately clinging to whatever constant you can find in the chaos?

Shuffling deck chairs on the titanic?

When we’re faced with monumental change, we know we need to adapt to survive, but our survival instinct drives us to do just the opposite – to seek stability and safety. A lot of this is unconscious. And so we find ourselves in workshops, and meetings, and setting up innovation think tanks with the intention of making change, only to find the process sabotaged by the group’s collective fear.

You’re shuffling the deck chairs on the titanic. It’s not fun.

You are already a champion changemaker

You might not remember it happening, but the fact is we’ve all lived through a stage where we faced unbelievable change and survived, thrived even. In your first three years of life you grew 1,000 trillion new brain connections and transformed yourself from a gurgling newborn bundle into a walking, talking, socialising, and learning mini-human.

How did you do this? Through play and experimentation.

In this series I’m going to share with you my favourite thinking techniques, and invite you to play with them as a way to cure ‘innovation block’. When you’re faced with a 300ft tsunami of change, taking a mental break to just play with possibilities is just the thing to unlock a solution. At worst, you’ll feel much better after taking a little time out to take things less seriously.

Playing with the Rules

Rules are what keep life simple enough for ordinary humans to manage. The explicit rules are easy enough to identify, but it’s the unwritten rules and assumptions that can really limit our ability to find breakthrough solutions to tough problems.

Try this 15-minute game:

  1. Write down a list of all the rules and assumptions that apply to your problem. Don’t edit or debate, you’re aiming to get a nice long list in under 5 minutes. If some of them surprise you, or seem stupidly obvious, you’re doing a good job.
  2. Pick a rule from the list at random and break it, ideally to an extreme.
    Ask yourself, what if this wasn’t true? For example, if your rule is “we can’t spend more than $1,000”. The alternatives might be “we have unlimited funds” or “we have no money”.
  3. What possibilities exist in this new reality you’ve created?

I learned this technique from the wonderful Dr Amantha Imber and the team at Inventium. Head over to Inventium’s blog for four more ways to get inspired in under 5 minutes.

Marketing: the business of behaviour change

The business of marketing is the business of change. Everyday our marketing consultants help purpose-driven organisations to use the tools of business and communication to influence behaviour. Whether that’s spreading awareness of a cause, or positioning a service to appeal to those most in need…what’s really happening is a change in thoughts, feelings and action. A mind-shift. New thinking!

For support finding a way through change for your brand and the people you serve, get in touch with our marketing team at marketingteam@cbb.com.au


Meg Drechsler

Meg Drechsler is CBB’s Senior Marketing Consultant.  If you have any queries about measuring your  marketing she can be contacted via email consulting@cbb.com.au or by calling Phone: 1300 763 505


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