Building a Culture of Innovation: A tool to start building trust

April 29, 2019
by Tracy Betts

Building a Culture of Innovation: Your Innovation Toolbox Part 2

A tool to Start Building Trust

Kill A Stupid Rule

We are huge fans of Lisa Bodell, CEO of Futurethink.  The folks over at Futurethink created an exercise called “Kill A Stupid Rule,” which is an excellent exercise to both build trust within your team and challenge operational assumptions that are holding the team back.

CAUTION: Only proceed with this exercise if you, as the leader, are prepared to kill at least one rule on the spot. 

The premise is to ask your team to answer the question, “If you could get rid of any rule, kill it or change it, what would you do and why?”  This session will allow you to kill ineffective processes on the spot. By removing roadblocks that are a drag on productivity, employees will see that leadership is engaged, caring and perhaps most importantly, willing to act. 

At the same time, the exercise opens the door for employees to feel included by allowing them to legitimately “have a voice” and make productive suggestions about the organization.

CAUTION: Ensure you put guardrails in place.  Any process that is regulated or would be illegal is red.  Everything else is a green rule and therefore up for inclusion.

After only ten minutes of brainstorming, you will be AMAZED.  And I’m not exaggerating when I say “amazed;” you’ll be shocked amazed even. So many things are brought up that are holding people back that you didn’t even think of as a rule or roadblock. And, some are not even rules but assumptions or processes.

When to use “Kill a Stupid Rule”

  • Perhaps ideas were generated in the past but never followed up on by leadership so nothing ever happens. 
  • The right leadership is in place to move ideas forward.
  • You are burdened by operational inefficiencies
  • You hear “if only we could do it this way” or “I don’t know why we do it like this” or even “If we could only…”
  • If you are trying to rebuild trust in a team that feels defeated by lack of follow through 
  • If you have a new team and want to build trust

If a rule is easy to get rid of and has a high impact on the business, it should be killed right then and there.  This is a nice first step to establishing more trust and communication within your team. 


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