Embrace The Constraints but Break The Barriers

I work only to deadlines.

Generally it would never occur to me write a presentation today, which would be due next week. When writing (whether a document or presentation) I need to be in a state of panic, despair and insanity to produce anything.

I am not probably the only one.

Constraints are good, because they help you to focus what you need to do. You have week to do this, the budget would be 100k and we will use mobile. You immediately know what to do. Being without constraints does not actually help creativity, because when you are working on a clean slate you can mess it up with all sorts of irrelevant crap. Thinking outside of the box is not helpful; instead you should try to expand the box as much as possible. The box is always there.

Constraints bring effectiveness, because humans procrastinators by nature (which is not necessarily bad thing). Constraints define the playing field you are and what game you are playing. Which is essential. Playing soccer in basketball court is not innovative, it is just lunacy. You can still do innovative and crazy things within your constraints.

Constraints

  • Time (Faster is better)
  • Money (Usually there is never enough)
  • Brand belief (Good brand knows what it is and what it is not. It stays true to its belief and does change according to fads)
  • Target audience (Hardest projects are those where you are trying to speak to really broad mass audience. Quite often that is not really the case and you can actually narrow it down, but certain brands and products really have target audience of entire population)

What makes the job hard is not constraints, but the barriers.

They are quite often mistaken for constraints, but the difference is obvious. Instead of defining playing field, barriers are stopping you from doing great work inside that playing field. Sometimes they might come from your inner insecurity (“I don´t dare to do it”) or from general spinelessness of other people (“I am afraid to rock the boat”). Common trait of these barriers is that people who keep throwing them to your playing field genuinely believe that they are helping in defining the problem. In reality they are just making everyone´s life miserable and increasing the mediocrity in this world. And this is an unforgivable sin.

Barriers

  • Fear (“We cannot present this, it is too bold”)
  • Reluctance (“We tried this 4 years ago, it did not work”)
  • Egoism (“I know better because I won this award 10 years ago and have lived off it since then”)
  • Stupidity (“The copy text has word don´t, isn´t that negative?)
  • Weakness (“Let´s give them exactly what they ask and not what they need”)

So embrace your constraints because they help to get shit done. At the same time try to break the barriers as much as possible, because that helps you to do things that you can be proud of.

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