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Inside The Box Thinking

For a long time, I believed that constraints were a bad thing. As a young leader I thought they served as a barrier to creativity. I mean if you have ever worked for bad micro-manager you know the feeling of being bound up and unable to soar…Right?


Lack of constraints can be counterproductive. This is because creativity is not just an art thing. While it can produce masterpieces it’s a big part of getting stuff done daily. When we can get stuff done daily we can activate momentum. As John Maxwell says, momentum will solve around 85% of our problems.

That’s why I think it’s important that we consider constraints a strategic tool to enhance productivity and creativity.

Psychologist are illustrating that when we are confronted with a constraint we can solve difficult problems better. This heightens our ability to be creative. When given a limitation creative people are better able to fine tune their skill and utilize their resources better.

Here are some ways I think constraints help to build and broaden our sense of things.

  • We learn to use what is available in creative ways.

  • We learn to manage our time on tasks more effectively.

  • We can become more satisfied with the outcomes we produce.

  • We use our resources better.

  • We can better predict the future.

  • We can ultimately learn to be more grateful when a constraint is lifted.

By nature, I’m not a systems person but, as I’ve matured in my strengths I realize my talents become more effective when I purposefully add a constraint through the planning process. It’s the process that moves my strategic thinking brain into solving issues more creatively. This offers a greater level of impact for the clients and people I serve.

So, the next time you feel forced to sit in a boring budget meeting have peace of mind knowing that as you work your plan you will maximize your creativity. Putting in constraints unlocks your team’s fullest potential. There is value to getting in the box - to think outside of it.

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