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Ethan Parry, November 5, 2014

When we are young, we learn basic rules. These rules govern the way we interact with art, music, technology, and just about every other facet of life. We are told to color within the lines, play certain notes together and that all smartphones need to be sleek with smoothed edges. Even design thinking seems to require individuals to go through established acronyms and steps.

I came across an article featured on last month called, “Why Getting It Wrong is the Future of Design.” Scott Dadich, editor-in-chief at WIRED, argues that we need to do more than just “think outside of the box.”

“We have figured out the rules of creating sleek sophistication,” Dadich said. “Now, we need a shift in perspective that allows us to move forward. It’s time to stop figuring out how to do things the right way, and start getting it wrong.”

He’s right. In my field of public relations, for example, I feel that we often find ourselves stuck in the same rut. There is the “right” way to pitch to the media, the “right” way to write a press release and the “right” way to handle a crisis. It is about time that we embrace what Dadich refers to as the Wrong Theory, and learn how to break the rules. But how?

In order to break the rules, Dadich explains, you must know them first. Here are a few of my suggestions as to how the public relations industry can start coming to grips with being wrong:

Start By Breaking the Small Rules

Developing this mindset takes time, especially if you happen to work for one of the top four global public relations firms. You aren’t going to be able to make drastic changes over night, and even if you could, it may not be the best idea. For example, take your standard press release. You have written it the same way your entire life. Think of different ways you can play with the format and write it in such a way that will better appeal to your target audience. As you go about your week, pay particular attention to all of the rules that you follow, write them down and brainstorm ideas of how you can start to break them.

Break Rules Together

If only one individual is breaking the rules, chances are they may be criticized for their poor performance and/or bizarre ideas. In order to truly be innovative, teams, departments, divisions need to break the rules together. Returning to the press release example, if an entire department establishes a “style” for writing press releases, corporate may then decide to adopt it as its own.

Remember Why You Are Breaking the Rules

Of course, finding new ways to create a product pitch are important, but don’t forget the reason why you are breaking the rules in the first place. The true reason as to why any organization would break long-established rules would be to better serve the end user. Of course, I want to be clear that I, and Didach for the matter, are not encouraging chaotic internal revolution. You can make mistakes! You can get things wrong! As you do so, you will be able to find even better ideas.