20 October 2005


Are you stuck?

Stuck in a job?
Stuck on a project?
Stuck on a problem?
Stuck in a rut?

It might be time to reduce your options and eliminate some resources.

Does that sound odd to you?

Creativity is driven by constraints. When we have limited resources -- even when the limits are artificial -- creative thinking is enhanced. That's because the fewer resources you have, the more you are forced to rely on your ingenuity.

For example, think about the history of painting. It's hard to imagine more severe restrictions:
- It has to be a rectangle
- It must be flat
- It must be produced using a limited set of colors, derived primarily from oil, dirt and vegetable matter
- It must surprise and delight the mind and the senses

Or perhaps even "It must be painted on the ceiling."

Severe constraints: yet from Michelangelo to Picasso, artists such as Rembrandt, El Greco, Matisse, Van Gogh and Cezanne managed to comply. Yet their works could not be more different. In the modern age such constraints on "rules of art" have been completely removed, yet it seems that unique and memorable works of art are harder than ever to come by.

Unlimited resources reduce creativity. The dot coms are a perfect example. They had millions of dollars to work with and yet many of them created nothing. At the same time, people with nothing created companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

So if you need to get creative, think: what can you take away?

For example, what if you took away the power to click?

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Anonymous said...

I've been enamored of XPLANE since the first of issue of Business2.0 that had those awesome graphic explanations ...

But, really. Microsoft started from nothing? No way!

Amazon and Google, sure.

How 'bout a current example?

Unknown said...

Well, XPLANE for instance :)

Anonymous said...

This is so true, Dave.

An example of this in action is Dr. Seuss. When an article in Life magazine pointed out that children were not learning to read because the early reader books were boring, Dr. Seuss' publisher gave him a list of 400 words and asked him to write a book using only 250 of them.

Result: The Cat in the Hat

Bennett Cerf later bet him that he could not write a book using only 50 words.

Result: Green Eggs and Ham

Great post!
Janee ( www.trasler.typepad.com )

Unknown said...

Wow Janee, that's great information. Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite writers -- now i know why!