Did you find the rules that you must break?

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Developing mastery of a subject feels great. Being recognized as an authority in a field, and being able to deploy the reputation for rapidly progressing towards your goals is effective. But you must be ready to see what are possible weaknesses in the system that supports you. Unless you find the rules that you must break you can’t evolve either within the area where you’ve grown secure, or beyond it.

We are developing a new version of Dotsub that is going to break the assumptions of many people of what Dotsub is and how it should work. And we are doing it convinced that it is going to benefit an even larger number of users who’ll be able to take advantage of captioned and translated videos, fully integrated in their online experience.

It is a delicate process that is not without perils. You can actually train for it. Develop coping mechanisms that strengthen your defenses against the stress of the unknown. When children “disobey”, this is what they are actually doing. They go meta: rather than just observing the effect of playing within the system, they are experimenting with the dynamic of the rule-set itself, in search for better outcomes.

In a rapidly changing world acquired wisdom can become worthless, and realizing when is the right time to go beyond the authority’s predefined boundaries prepares for an unavoidable transition. You can take calculated risks in pushing through that unexplored territory where the rules don’t apply because the old ones are useless, and the new ones haven’t been worked out yet.

Knowing what are the existing rules is pretty crucial: Picasso developed his unique revolutionary styles of visual decomposition and representation only after a solid more classical preparation.

Creating innovation in art, or in the world of startups can only come through abandoning the known, exploring new territories, and breaking the rules you found and learned couldn’t apply anymore.

We call Uber arrogant and ruthless, but it serves a very precious role, not only developing new services and experimenting with innovative business models. It also lets us observe in real time the process of rule-breaking in action.

Find your rules. And then break them.