Unnatural cactus.

Break the Rules

By Beth R. Chase

April 9, 2018

In October of 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at the Wall Street Journal Tech Conference about his frustration with the lack of change in the broadcast TV industry. “Why does a channel even exist?” he said. “Think about it. My nephew asked me that once and I couldn’t even answer.”

Cook’s nephew was able to ask this critical, compelling question because he wasn’t bound by long-held assumptions, beliefs, experiences, patterns, and comfort. Rather than asking, “How do we make our channel relevant again?” perhaps broadcasters ought to be asking questions, which, on the surface, might feel a bit ridiculous, like: “What if a channel didn’t exist?”

A study by Richard Foster and Sarah Kaplan (Creative Destruction) calculated the historical death rate for S&P 500 companies and found that at the current prevailing rate of mortality, a full 75 percent of those on the current list will disappear by 2020. Does that concern you? It should, particularly if you are responsible for setting the future direction of your firm.

So, how do you break the rules?

It starts with breakthrough thinking. We’ve learned that there are four critical ingredients for breakthrough thinking:

  1. Great process: One that gives you the freedom to think strategically about a problem from a systemic point of view (a rare activity), asking “What if?” and “Why not?” starting with a blank sheet of paper, and envisioning new possibilities
  2. Diverse catalysts: Those external players who challenge the status quo, knock you out of your comfortable patterns and choices, ask the tough questions, and drive you through the thinking process
  3. Creative environment: One that encourages new ideas, invites robust dialogue, and supports collaboration
  4. Right people: Those people on your team who not only have subject matter knowledge but also bring an open mind, and are committed to owning and executing the outcomes

Blend these ingredients together for breakthrough results. Give it a try.