September 30, 2021 / by Kristen Baumgartner

Ah…there you are. The defiant rebels. The out-of-the-box thinkers. The army of John Benders with fists in the air. Welcome to the Rule Breakers Club. do not enter

In our “work-lives”, the defiant are often frowned upon. Those who DON’T follow process, suggest a different way of doing things, and challenge the status quo are often shunned and basically sent to all-day Saturday detention for their crimes. It’s been the same old tune all throughout history.

One individual challenged the largest academic entity of the time and was forced to spend the rest of his life under house arrest for claiming the earth was not the center of the universe. Now known as the father of modern science, Galileo might have actually had a point.

Then there was the fellow that was accused of “unseemly conduct” and possible witchcraft when found to be dissecting cadavers to prove the heart was the center of circulatory system. Da Vinci’s anatomical illustrations influenced 19th and 20th century medical practices, so he might have been on to something.

Then there were the traitors that rebelled against their King and had the audacity to forge a separate nation. But these days Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson seem to have been given some credibility.

I do realize these are some outlandish examples, but the point is this - just because someone does it differently, does NOT mean it has no value.

Let’s move to an example that is closer to home for those of us in the Sage 100 and Sage Manufacturing space ... 

An organization has multiple locations that they are managing across the country. Procedures have been put into place by ownership allowing the parent company to monitor all locations’ production, inventory levels, and shipments. One of their locations has NOT been following the recommended processes. (Screws do fall out all the time. The world’s an imperfect place.) However, the “defiant” location processes the highest volume of orders with the most accuracy.

Why does no one seem to ask WHY the system doesn’t work for them? Or HOW are these results being achieved? Wouldn’t it be an AMAZING conversation to understand what they are doing differently and then leverage that to improve all locations?

I am not a proponent of the ends justify the means. There are times that ignoring processes can truly be detrimental to an organization. I think we all realize there is a substantial difference between a rule breaker and a “bad” employee. For our purposes, let’s remove those who might choose sleeping in, longer lunches, and the “I get paid either way” attitude (We all can agree that “The Dude” is no Da Vinci here). 

But why is the natural reaction to “get them on board”, “straighten them out”, or make them sit for 8 hours and 54 minutes thinking about why they are here and pondering the error of their ways? If exceptional results are being achieved, maybe they are doing something right.

Defiance can indicate an intimacy with process issues that can be overlooked by those who create the process. Although unconventional, their insights can diversify viewpoints and can ultimately be an outstanding source of value to the organization.

Rule breakers can strengthen a process, a department, or even a company culture. I say let’s give them a chance to use their powers for good. Don’t dismiss the rebel that could easily be a trailblazer.

After all – We still think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are, Mr. Vernon.

Written by Kristen Baumgartner