Why break glass? Six techniques for creating change

Albert Einstein said: β€œInsanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Said another way, by a less articulate and less wise man (me): “if you want to create something truly new and unique then you gotta break a little glass”. By glass, I’m talking about the invisible mental constraints we put on our thinking, as well as the external forces that maintain the status quo, and hence are inherently designed to stifle innovation. So, to be innovative, break some glass.

Here are six methods for breaking glass, or catalysts for creating change. Choose your method wisely depending on your temperament and situation:

1) The Mazel Tov: This is rare, and to many only comes along once in a lifetime. When this method occurs, it is well planned, and involves a wholly bought-in team who celebrate embracing change together. You may know this technique by other names such as the New Boat Launch, and the Barack Obama.

2) The Bull in the China Shop: This occurs when someone runs in and smashes through all traditions and creates change in one sweeping run. You typically see this when a change in management occurs, or by the improbable promotion of someone inexperienced and likely insensitive. Although sometimes just steamrolling in can be effective and warranted.

3) The “oops”: Accidental breakage can occur where an unintended change is made without anyone really expecting it. So this really comprises the true innovation accidents like microwaves, post-it notes, or penicillin…but as we know most “eureka” inventions are the product of a really, really long process. So it’s often imitated, but hardly duplicated.

4) The Table Flip: More prevalent than you may think, most change agents result from sheer frustration with the status quo. You’re sitting there in a cubicle, silently seething about the way things are done until one day you cant take it any more and go out with a blaze of glory. The result is you channel that frustration into something more constructive.

5) The Axel Foley: Almost the Table Flip, but in this case the frustrating entity gets to you before you can get to it. Your frustration results in negativity to the point where they throw you through a glass window (i.e. fire you). The consequence is that the throwee is given a new lease on life to be creative and inventive, and perhaps fueled by a touch of revenge. For those of you too young to know this reference, see Beverly Hills Cop with Eddie Murphy – here’s the scene (go to 1:45).

6) The Opera Singer: This approach is where you have to scream long and loud to get people so worked up such that you break them down and incite them to go along with your way of thinking. This is not for everyone, as it takes lots of guts and the ability to not get booed off stage (i.e. fired) before you can break any glass.

What ways do you suggest that we can break some glass and shake things up?

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