Breaking All The Rules…

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As often as you may think that you know better, you know what needs to be done, you know how to do things more efficiently… you are probably also wrong. As a newbie in any situation the first and foremost unfortunate error that most people fall into is the overestimating of their own knowledge and skills.

In the dictionary it is explained quite simply as “The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate.”

This explains why so many people rely so heavily on Google to establish knowledge around common topics and ignore the actual advice of educated experts with various degrees. Vaccination is the primary example where non-medicine professionals claim to know more and better than scientists or doctors. Other examples include people talking about nutrition, sports, money, and climate change. Google and Wikipedia are not reliable sources to counterbalance the lack of a degree or education. No matter how well an opinion piece is written. No matter how much a commentary evokes emotions. Googling does not replace a degree. Period.

Also in your daily work you encounter those people that quite often overestimate their own skills. New to the department they know immediately what is wrong with your process or your assumptions, and they immediately know what needs to be changed to make things better. Often ignoring facts, historical evidence, and sometimes the advice of people who have been in the job for a while. These people feel they can break established rules out of arrogance driven by an overestimation of their own knowledge and skill.

Keep in mind I like breaking rules. I do so quite often — I am the last one who sticks to rules just because. However, in order to break rules effectively you need to follow some rules. Ha.

Breaking rules bears consequences. Before breaking rules, you need to understand why they are in place and you need to weigh the risks that come with breaking rules.

Who has your back? Who can support your position? What is the overall benefit to the company?

Will your rule breaking make things better? Not only for you, but for the company?

When breaking the rules there are a few people you need to keep on your side.

  1. The Expert: Do you have the right expertise at hand — This does not mean you need to know everything yourself, but you need to ensure that the expertise is on your side. Someone that can step up and say: “This is possible. This will lead to a good outcome.” This is the person who evaluates the situation. Gives you thumps up or thumps down.
  2. The Opinion Leader: Do you have a means of easily convincing the opinion leader or have her already at your side? Do you know who the opinion leaders are? This is someone who is well respected and whose opinion counts. Someone who will say something in support of your actions and everyone will just simply follow.
  3. The Authority Figure: Do you have someone with authority on your side? Someone who can defend you in a questionable situation. Someone that has your back. Someone with stripes and the corresponding resources. You need resources.
  4. The Cross Bearer: Someone who has the capacity  and skill to actually follow through and make your new way the routine. Someone able to do all the leg work possible to get from ground breaking new idea to a well established process. Someone who can support the talk with an actual walk. This is often yourself.
  5. The Cheerleader: Not a necessity, but someone who cheers you on and encourages you to take risks. This will make you more confident and courageous. The two characteristics that will carry you over the finish line with a smile.

So, breaking the rules is possible, but you need to know what you are breaking. And never overestimate your knowledge and skills. We have too many stupid or stupid acting people around.

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