Love that Constraint!

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I recently had the privilege of attending a workshop by Whitney Johnson called Disrupt Yourself – focusing on how we need to unleash creativity to be innovative. I noted the that one of her points was identical to one made by Morgan and Barden in A Beautiful Constraint: constraints aren’t necessarily negative things: they can be enabling, catalytic forces that stimulate approaches and possibilities. They can make us more than we were, rather than less than we could be.

This is one of the reason Venture Capitalists often note that they prefer to invest in a person who’s had prior experience launching a company and one who has also tasted failure, because failing means facing a constraint and learning how to adjust to it.

They note that one reason that Google’s home page is as simple as it I, is because that was the limit of Larry Page’s coding skills: create a search box and logo. Without external resources, and the cluttered look of other search brands, that was enough. Twitter’s success in getting users is fed by the fact that 140 characters, reduces the fear that people would have if they had to write a minimum of hundreds of characters! Cars, which use gas, get more gallons to the mile today, because the government set constraints on the minimum mileage acceptable in Federal Legislation. IKEA challenged the need to sell assembled furniture and created an empire. Zappos focuses on excellent customer service, because it knew it had to overcome purchasers’ resistance to buying shoes they couldn’t try on. The key to overcoming this restraint, was to offer people the ability to buy and return with no shipping costs.

So the question is whether the constraint that’s limiting your ability to do something is “beautiful” – i.e., leading you to be creative and arrive at an innovative, solution. Are you ready to move away from the processes and routines you habitually use and think “outside-the-box”. You need to see beyond the constraints regarding “today’s conditions”, “resource limits”, “time constraints”, and ask: what’s possible? Focus on the ultimate goal – growth, higher quality, product/service superiority, customer experience and total impact. Using creative approaches, such as brainstorming and asking challenging questions, such as the 5 level of whys, or the 7 Rs, you can stimulate innovative solutions.

What are some of the “beautiful” constraints that you’ve encountered? Any advice for others/ Please share!