Are you following unnecessary rules?

There are many conventions and rules which govern our lives and which we mostly don’t question or think about. Most of these rules are there to protect us and maintain a civilised society. But did you ever stop to realise how many rules we impose on ourselves unnecessarily? I had a great experience of realising this the other week during a course.

As part of the course we played a game called ‘Diminishing Resources’. It works like this:

Summary – The floor of the room is set up with various sized squares, made of newspapers, or flip charts or A4 or 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper. Participants are asked to move from one square to another. After two or three moves, begin to remove papers, forcing participants on to a smaller number of squares until new and different solutions are arrived at.

Instructions –  To begin, everyone must have both feet in a square; when I say “change,” you must move to a new square; we continue when everyone has both feet in a new square; be brief in the setup, refer questions to the guidelines.

When I was playing this game I realised my self imposed rule of standing only on the paper squares (it wasn’t in the instructions, they only said to stand on a square) when I saw a fellow participant standing on a chair with a square seat. After this I realised the carpet tiles were square, and then that the room was square, so I could stand anywhere and be on a square.

This was a powerful realisation for me – how often am I hindering my creativity by these subconscious, unnecessary rules?

My learning from this game is to try and be more aware of all the possibilities when considering a problem or idea. I will try to ask more questions about how and why particular solutions are created.

I encourage you to use this game with your team or teams/groups you work with – it’s a fantastic kinesthetic and experiential way to realise the power self imposed rules have over our creativity.

If you have experienced this game, what did you think? How else might we expose those self imposed rules?


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