Jun 302011

The Value of Constraints

The Value of Constraints

The beauty of Twitter is that a tweet can only be 140 characters long.  With that as a constraint, you end up seeing some amazingly creative messages on Twitter that manage to convey both a specific tone and a lot of content — in close quarters!

The same logic can apply to business more generally.

  • If you give your team two hours to solve a complex problem, you’ll be amazed at how far they can get with it, even if they don’t have enough time to do thorough research
  • If you have to balance your budget every year, you’ll be amazed at the clarity of decision-making you find yourself with (Wonder why Congress can’t figure out how to spend less money?  They don’t have to!)
  • If you only have 5 minutes to make a presentation to your executive team on a complex topic, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can figure our your main three points, and stick to them

It’s very simple – constraints force economy and clarify objectives.   If you MUST make hard choices, you do.  If you HAVE TO set priorities, you do.  If you have to streamline your thinking, you do.  Of course, you may not be able to convey the subtleties and richness of character of War and Peace in 140 characters, but that doesn’t mean there’s no value to constraints.  Try out one of the above exercises sometime and see what you get.