What drives big, breakthrough innovations? Often it’s constraints — limitations that force people to rethink the problem at hand and come up with a new means of addressing it. There are two ways to impose helpful constraints upon your team. First, present constraints around outcomes. This means defining what a good solution would accomplish for users, customers, or investors, and working backwards to identify the process and workflow that will help you get there. Second, impose constraints around timeframes. Deadlines push people to focus and work faster — as long as the timeline doesn’t trigger stress or other performance-killing reactions. The key is to set deadlines that are appropriate for the outcomes you’ve established. Being realistic is more important than being ambitious when it comes to timing. If you effectively marry constraints around outcomes and timeframes, you’ll give your team the best chance at coming up with a truly innovative solution.
This tip is adapted from “Innovation Starts with Defining the Right Constraints,” by Fiona Murray and Elsbeth Johnson