The power of constraints

Chris Teague - 2 mins

What's it for: Embracing constraints to create change

Who's it for: Change makers


"I was served lemons, but I made lemonade." Hattie White, "Freedom" by Beyonce.

Constraints are assumed to be negative, but in reality, they can provide the greatest stimulus for creativity and innovation. An imposed limitation or defining parameter can be the stimulus to find a better way of doing something.

We must embrace constraints and view them not as a limitation but rather a stimulus for positive change.

Interesting fact; Mick Jagger's unique dance came about from years of performing on tiny stages [the constraint] in small clubs

Can-if thinking When Audi entered the Le Mans 24-hour race in 2006, the traditional question of the racing industry was how can we build a faster car? Faster was considered the only way to win? Audi was competing with teams with bigger budgets and a long history in Le Mans, all of whom were trying to build the fastest car. So Audi asked itself a different question. "How could we win Le Mans if our car could go no faster than anyone else's?"

The answer was fuel efficiency, and they entered a diesel powered car. Regardless of a car's top speed, it doesn't move very fast when stopping for fuel. Audi found a way to win with a slower car by simply stopping for fuel less often than their competitors. Rather than start a sentence with "we cannot do that because ..." try adopting a different approach and start with the phrase "We can if ...". This focuses your thinking on how things might be possible, rather than finding barriers to not doing something.