Constraints Boost Creativity, Productivity
April 14, 2023
Recently, I had a fascinating experience that taught me a valuable lesson about the power of constraints.
I was in a meeting with the Head of a retail bank, and after the customary introductions, the gentleman asked me to describe the solutions my company delivers in five minutes. He had to step out for another call, and he wanted to hear out what I had to say.
Suddenly, the comfort of an hour-long meeting changed into the constraint of a five-minute summary.
But something strange happened in that meeting. Knowing that I only had five minutes to speak (constraint), I was able to elevate my thinking to a level where I succinctly described the very core of what we did as an organization. The constraint imposed forced me to change my thinking and operate creatively, and I was able to communicate at a different level of abstraction.
What struck me was how the constraint of a tight timeframe actually improved my ability to articulate better and more creatively. If I did not have the time constraint, I would have perhaps spoken a lot more but with little substance and much less effectiveness.
The truth is we tend to resist constraints in any form – be it month-end revenue goals, project deadlines, or cost reductions. However, when we approach constraints with an open mind and a positive attitude, they can spur creativity and inspire us to find more efficient ways to work with limited resources.
Our brains are wired to respond to constraints by giving them heightened attention and priority. Without constraints, we risk falling into a lazy mindset that leads to procrastination and little progress.
Whether working solo or leading a team, embracing constraints is crucial for effective execution. Constraints force us to focus on what’s truly important and prioritize our efforts accordingly. Without them, progress can stall, and problems can fester. So next time you face a constraint, don’t view it as a hindrance – embrace it as an opportunity to operate creatively, innovate, and grow.