Why I Love Constraints

When the architect Frank Gehry was asked if society curtails individual imagination, he famously said: “I don’t think it does… You curtail your own imagination if you do it. Certainly there are constraints… Gravity is a constraint, finally. But those are, to any artist, manageable.”

What an inspiring quote. It sounds quite counter intuitive, but I’ve noticed- both in myself and in teams- that our best work happens when we are substantially constrained. Not that we should look actively for a constraint that does not exist- certainly not! But then, most projects will come with some form of constraint. Small sized companies will have budgetary constraints; mid-sized companies often lack governance frameworks, and large organizations may come with the burden of outdated processes, redundant workforce, etc. Time to proficiency, global and local regulations, organizational dynamics (politics), etc are also formidable constraints.

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