There is a thought that if you have an unrestricted, complete blank sheet, without any parameters or borders to your creativity, then THAT is the best option for you to create. “What would you do with a blank sheet?”
I’ve always kicked back a little at the “think outside of the box” brigade- something which probably irked a few moderators of sessions I might have been sitting in at the time, for which I’m genuinely sorry.
In truth I get the gist and the idea, its just that sometimes ‘the box’ is there for a valid reason, and no matter how much time you waste trying to pretend it isn’t, you are probably better engaged in accepting ‘the box’ and making plans which work within it, since the reality THE BOX IS GOING NOWHERE! That said, like I have said- I get the gist and the rationale.
Something else though worthy of consideration, from restrictions and genuine practical parameters comes some great work. I’d argue that some great content comes from those who have limitations or restrictions within which they HAVE to create. I’ve known radio stations which have terrific on air content and creative executions, broadcasting from poor facilities and without a large budget. I’ve known stations which have moved or revamped their studios to something more fancy with a lot more resource, only to have a decline in the creative output. The two things might be linked!
Let me make something clear, I’m not suggesting that to be creatively fantastic you need to have a restriction applied. It’s not a two way street. A salmon is a fish, but not all fish are salmon.
When creative people are met with the realities of the day, their reaction seems to be, “lets make the best with what we have got” and also, “lets see if we can create something from this which we didn’t think was possible at first look”. The restrictions force you to think about the things which you might have moved on from, if you had boundless resource. Don’t focus on the fence of the playground, focus on the fun in the playground that exists.
News Flash. Nobody has enough money (OK, maybe we can think of a few, but I bet they don’t think they have enough either!). When it comes to the available budget to make anything, nobody has enough budget. Everybody wants more.
Sure you should push for more and see what you can get, but in reality it comes down to creativity to make it work. With a black sheet of paper and a no limit budget pretty much anyone can create something, but is it any good? Taking a leaf out of the book by Barry J Nalebuff and Ian Ayres, “Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small“, how do you get 99% of the benefit with 1% of the cost? Restrictions force you to make critical choices about what is really required and what is peripheral and secondary- it forces you to focus on the actual need and the required elements of any content or design.
So the next time you can’t get everything you want, don’t waste the energy shaking a fist, or barking at the moon at the injustice. Focus on what you can do with what you have got, and how you can use the limitations to create something better than you thought was possible before you began. It’s a bit like my previous blog about Love and Like, within your restricted walled garden, delight people who come to look and they will stay longer.
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