Constraints Create Innovation Not Hinder It

“CONSTRAINTS?!?”, I hear you scream. “Constraints? There are no constraints in innovation. All crazy ideas are great!

How do you see constraints? To be embraced or as a disadvantage?
The worlds of architecture, startups, sport, software, and design are full of brilliant creators who embrace and adapt to their constraints.
As the team from the world leading web-development company Basecamp said in their book 'Getting Real': "Let limitations guide you to creative solutions. There's never enough to go around. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough people. That's a good thing.
When 37signals (the company's previous name) was building Basecamp, we had plenty of limitations...that forced us to come up with creative solutions. Constraints are often advantages in disguise. Instead, work with what you have."
There will always be constraints but just a small shift in mindset can lever great ideas.
Look at things differently. Constraints can be useful. Use them to shift your thinking and embrace them to power innovation, instead of believing they hinder it. 

Try this exercise:

Write down your problem or challenge, then apply some constraints to any solution and see how it changes your thinking.

i.e. How might we create a better customer experience for our clients?

Here are a few constraints to get you started:  

  1. We need to do it in three days
  2. What could we do if we had no budget?
  3. What if we can’t use email to communicate?
  4. What if I had to do this by myself? 
  5. What would I do if I could assemble any team I wanted for this? 
  6. If we could only focus on one thing to solve this, what would it be?

NOTE: Don’t limit yourself to just one answer per question!

These constraints force you to shift your thinking and provide fresh perspectives on the problem. Will these constraints provide an immediate answer? Possibly. Will they provide some new insights into the problem itself? Definitely.

If you want to look at things differently, constraints can be useful. Use them to shift your thinking and embrace them to power innovation, instead of believing that they hinder it.

Here’s to some fresh, new thinking.

Happy days,




If you need to get your business team to start collaborating and bringing their diverse ideas to the table, VisualFunk can help you. Contact us today and we can help you create design thinking sprints, creativity and problem-solving workshops and more.

In the meantime, check out my book on kickstarting a culture of innovation in your workplace, you can download FREE the first 2 chapters here.

Chat soon,

Simon Banks, Director of VisualFunk

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