How Constraints Create Space for Innovation
“The Audi race team had the goal of winning the prestigious Le Mans race. Both their closest competitors, BMW and Mercedes, had won the race before which made the goal particularly worthy of pursuing.
The obvious way to win a race is by building a faster car. However, building a significantly faster car is non-trivial. The chief engineer at Audi instead posed a different question to his team: ‘How can we win Le Mans if our car cannot go faster than anyone else’s’? Audi won Le Mans that year. Can you guess how?
Constraints Create Space for Innovation
They won the race, not by building a faster car, but a more efficient car. The Le Mans is a grueling twenty four hours race. During that time, cars have to be refueled multiple times. By putting diesel technology into their race cars, Audi reduced the number of pitstops their car had to make which was the edge they needed to win.
Constraints Are Gifts
The word ‘constraint’ evokes a negative feeling in most people.
Constraint (noun): something that limits or restricts someone or something.
When people face a constraint, they either fall victim and revise their ambition downward, or confront the constraint head-on and look for ways to lift it.
From a systems perspective, however, constraints are neither good nor bad. Every system always has one and correctly identifying that single constraint holds the key to practicing ‘right action, right time’.”