Johnnie Moore

What rules are we making up?

Watching out for "rules" we follow which don't really exist
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

The rules we follow without noticing we made them up

Transcript of this video:

There’s a warmup activity that improv actors often do before going on stage that involves each member of the cast pointing at various things around the room and naming those things in increasingly mad ways. So you start off pointing at things and saying what they are, camera, light switch, window.

And you end up in an exercise where you point at things and call them anything other than what they are, cabbage, rhinoceros, Gutenberg Bible.

And sometimes that activity is debriefed with a question, what rules did you invent for yourself playing that game? And people might look and think there weren’t any until someone asks, well, did you, for example, have a rule that if you hear someone else use a a name out loud, you can’t use that name?

So if someone else says, ‘aardvark’ you edit that out to the things that you are allowed to use. And often someone will say, oh, yeah, you know, I guess I did have that rule for myself.

Or did you have a rule that you couldn’t use the same name pointing to different things? So you couldn’t go cauliflower, cauliflower, cauliflower, or you couldn’t use the same category: So it’s not okay to go cauliflower, cabbage, carrot.

And usually people will admit that they did actually without noticing, create a rule for themselves about that. And the rules may be helpful or not, but they’re created without us quite noticing.

And I think as humans we are doing this all the time without noticing and sometimes it’s useful to call attention to that. And to give a concrete example:

Often, if you have a meeting of people who haven’t met before the normal thing to do is to have a round of introductions. And we all assume that’s a good way to start the meeting. We’ll go around the room and everybody introduce themselves, but even telling you about it I can feel I’m slightly losing the will to live.

And my friend Viv asked a great question the other day, when was the last time you sat in on a really good round of introductions?

And I laughed because I don’t think I’ve ever had sat in on a conventional round of introductions that’s been remotely memorable. So I think it’s quite an interesting question to ask of teams who may be quite familiar with themselves.

What are some of the rules we are following that we are assuming we need to when perhaps things might get more interesting if we didn’t?

Photo by Mark Duffel on Unsplash

Share Post

More Posts

More Updates

Emotional debt

Releasing the hidden costs of pent up frustrations


Finding the aliveness below the surface of stuck

Johnnie Moore

What sucks?

I’m doing a talk on Wednesday and just for fun, looked up one of the companies attending on Google. I just searched on “(Name of company) sucks”. And what an

Johnnie Moore

Bits of wisdom

Thanks to Andrew for sharing these little bits of inspiration from his recent trip to see the kiwis. “Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity” Drive to the conditions –

Johnnie Moore

A perfect mess

If you’ve read much of my stuff, you’ll not be surprised I like A Perfect Mess subtitled The Hidden Benefits of Disorder. How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning

Johnnie Moore

Engagement and complexity

I think it was Denis Healey a onetime Chancellor of the Exchequer who quipped about something I think it was a change in interest rates or something of the sort.