Brighton Leadership Group

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Think INSIDE the Box

Outside of the box is celebrated as the way to come up with new solutions, get creative and break out of a rut. However, constraints facilitate a better creative process. Why? It takes brainpower, energy and effort to decide among unlimited options and possibilities.
Constraints minimize decision fatigue and get people focused on the goal rather than the options. Creativity is enhanced with constraints.  Limitations reduce uncertainty (which limits cognitive processing) and expand our conceptual scope, so we can consider more possibilities and ideas.
What seems to limit you can liberate you. Here is a TED Talk from Phil Hansen, an artist who developed hand tremors. Instead of giving up his art, he found new ways to express his artistic talents. He makes a case for the value of putting yourself inside a box!
Create limitations to think inside the box:

  • Less time. Have you ever had a “burst of genius?” When you are constrained by time and you rush to complete something you can come up with brilliant ideas. Give yourself a deadline.
  • Less stuff. Options increase paralysis, limitations provide a clear playing field. State the problem and list the constraints. Then allow creativity to reign free within the constraints.
  • Less space. Instead of a blank page, begin with some words or images. Starting with something enables you to react rather than stare at the blank page.
  • Focus is a way of creating constraints. When you focus on one type of customer or one product or one task you are creating a box that maximizes creativity and excellence.

While it may seem counter intuitive to put constraints in place, they create boundaries that enable better solutions and more creative output. Remember, limits liberate!

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