When Not to Follow the Rules!

A few weeks ago I was sitting in my office on the 22nd floor, in Toronto when there was a fire alarm. Shortly after the alarm began there was an announcement saying that they were investigating the alarm however, we were to stay in our offices until they had more time to find out the issue. I decided to leave my office anyway. I needed some fresh air, and I was being slightly cautious.

Of the many things that have been researched since the fall of the twin towers is the response by authorities and occupants in this extreme situation. There was a 298 page document called, Occupant Behavior, Egress, and Emergency Communications. This report confirmed a number of key factors regarding the people who survived and those who perished.

While the buildings were burning, those calling 911 were advised to stay on their floors until authorities arrived. However, approximately 2500 people survived by ignoring this advice and leaving anyway. This “disobedience” had in some cases been due to panic, but in others was the result of real time information through Blackberries, phone calls and internal networks. The sharing of information made for better. The researcher’s called this “reasoned flight” decisions based on true information, in which case “following the rules” will lead to death.

Where am I going with this? In your career search, there may be many cases where you should ignore the traditional rules and use your networks, internal advisors and the help of others to make important decisions even though at times this may seems counterintuitive. For example, the add that says “no phone calls please”, when should you follow this, and when should you not? Well that depends, there are many variables in the career search and that is why the educated advice of others can so important. The key is to be both lateral and logical in your decision-making. It may “save” your career.

Along the road with you…