The Super Bowl is all about innovation. There will be 120 million people watching, and 50 percent of all TV screens will see some part of the game.

The event dominates the media as the most popular event every year, but there would be no game without proper rules. (As you know, the rules are extensive.)

There’s even instant replay to ensure the rules are followed to the letter. If there were no markings on the field or no limits to the number of players, football wouldn’t be the No. 1 fan-supported game in the U.S.

Even the sizes of the arrows on the field are regulated to one-quarter of an inch, and the pressure in the football must be at least 12.5 pounds. But all that rulemaking doesn’t limit innovation in our favorite game—it shapes it. The innovative rules improve the game and make customers buy into its legitimacy.

Our industry also has many rules for the game of window manufacturing for many of the same reasons. We want our customer to know what they are purchasing and focus our innovation on methods, devices and performance that they can trust.

The broad nature of our industry and its impact on housing policy, consumer safety, durability and energy policy have led to many aspects of our products being regulated and self-regulated. We test and certify the ratings for energy through the National Fenestration Rating Council. We also test for and certify:

1. Structural performance;
2. Water resistance;
3. Air leakage;
4. Forced entry resistance; and
5. Durability.

These factors are controlled by the use of the North American Fenestration Standard document and utilize one of the four certifiers to inspect our factories, which allow us to label products for consumer use. Does this limit our ability to innovate? Most agree that it does not.

If we think deeply about how the rules benefit consumers and limit the “buyer-beware” system of old, we can see how the rules help improve innovation. The minimum performance limits that define a window as having a minimum size, durability and appropriate glazing give consumers confidence, and they’re a starting point for designers and innovators to build better products. The rules that we use today have been built on the mistakes of the past and the best ways to fix those mistakes, just as the NFL has done.

As historic player Arnold Glasgow says, “In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.”

No matter who wins this weekend, focused innovation is also the winner!

Please ask your innovation questions to raygarries@gmail.com and refer to LinkedIn’s Fenestration Innovation Network to view the latest ideas.

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