The Joy of Constraints in Business
“Early in my career, I had a fairly shortsighted view of what it meant to be creative or innovative. I thought visionaries spent their time filling up blank pieces of paper with amazing, never-before-seen ideas that magically poured out of them.
I was fortunate to end up spending a handful of years leading the New York office of IDEO, a design and innovation firm. I tried to understand the creative process and the monumental yet simple lesson I learned was creativity loves constraints.
“Creative thinkers will say that a blank piece of paper is the worst thing in the world. Why? Because when the answer can be anything, you usually end up with nothing.
What is it about constraints that make a person more creative? With a set of guidelines to govern how to design an offering and make decisions, you can unleash more creativity. Constraints are often advantages in disguise — edges that encourage you to focus and go further, faster.
Just look at Twitter and its 140-character constraint. Twitter’s best practices state, “Creativity loves constraints and simplicity is at our core. Tweets are limited to 140 characters so they can be consumed easily anywhere, even via mobile text messages.” Ask Twitter users and they will most likely tell you that those 140 characters have forced them to be more focused and clear about what they’re trying to communicate.
Entrepreneurs are often wondering how to go about creating something new and to unleash the creativity and innovation capacity of their teams.
The answer is simple: Set some constraints.”