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Why constraints are good for innovation

There are a number of surveys that have been carried out recently that reveal that managers tend to contemplate a lack of resources and compliance restrictions as the two key obstacles when it comes to innovation. There is no denying that innovation is imperative for any sort of business today, and so understanding the common hurdles in the way and overcoming them is key to corporate success. 


The notion that has been mentioned in the introduction suggests that by getting rid of all constraints, innovative thinking will thrive. This means that by getting rid of all boundaries and rules. However, there has been research conducted recently that challenges this notion. This research has been published in the Harvard Business Review. It reveals that embracing constraints is one of the best ways for managers to innovate better. 


The research that was published involved 145 empirical studies being reviewed on the effects of constraints on innovation and creativity. It was concluded that a healthy dose of constraints is beneficial to organizations, teams, and individuals alike. Creativity is only stifled when these constraints become too high that it makes it impossible for people to innovate. 


According to the studies that were reviewed, complacency will start to set in when there are no constraints on the creative process. This results in people following a path-of-the-least-resistance. This is a term that was coined by psychologists. It effectively means that they do not invest in the development of better ideas. Instead, they simply go for the most intuitive idea that comes to their mind. 


On the other hand, constraints provide a creative challenge and focus that will motivate people to search for information and connect with different sources, generating novel ideas for business processes, as well as services and products. 


This shows how it would be beneficial for managers to embrace constraints and use them in order to flourish. There are three main forms of constraints. This includes limiting inputs, for example, available materials, access cash, funds, human capital, and time. Secondly, specific processes can be enforced. Finally, managers can also set specific requirements regarding output, for instance, service or product specifications. 


Nevertheless, it is critical to remember that it is all about a healthy balance and that managers need to be mindful about putting too many constraints in place. 


All things considered, there is no denying that growth is what most businesses are looking to achieve today. And, central to business growth is innovation. However, the research that has recently been published has shown that the common belief that all restrictions must be taken away when it comes to innovation is inaccurate. In fact, people are their most creative selves when there are a number of constraints.

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