In the News: Constraints Increase Creativity

Today in Fast Company’s “Science of Work,” Scott Sonenshein talks about hows constraints can actually lead to greater creativity, writing:

Our problems, challenges, and opportunities may become more manageable with constraints that direct us to make the best out of what we have.

For example, when designing new products, cooking, and repairing things, being constrained by a budget makes people significantly more creative, producing better results.

Even just thinking about constraints can help. In another study, participants were asked to write an essay about either growing up having scarce resources or growing up having abundant resources. Afterwards, they were asked to come up with creative uses for bubble wrap. As a result, the scarcity group produced significantly more creative ideas than the abundance group.

This is also consistent with what we have found in our public speaking classes when students use the “iceberg model” (see The Science of Speaking, Chapter 10). Asked to dramatically cut down their content to fit it into a short speech, our students end up using their creativity to craft much better speeches than they would’ve otherwise.

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