Constraints Promoting Creativity

A photo of an opened cardboard box with title text for the subject of this blog post on creativity, image sourced from Flickr under a CC-Share-Alike License Katsuhiro Osabe
Think Outside the Box : How Constraints Promote Creativity

I've had this on my mind for a while now. I actually started writing this particular article back in 2011 and only recently motivated myself to finish it. I think it can be a great read not just for other creative professionals, but anyone who hires a creative professional.
It's all about how having some form of boundaries can help promote a more creative end product. So just hear me out while I state my case, I think by the end you will see things the way I do too.

Dear clients, as creative professionals, we love you, and we need you.  It actually feels really great to have a client trust you and your work so much they basically give you free reign to produce anything you can imagine for their project.  And there is nothing wrong with that, but I think I should shed some light on the fact that giving your creative professional some boundaries to work within can actually promote a more creative end product.

I'll start it off with an analogy I just thought of;
Imagine a round of ammunition. Take the gunpowder from that round, and find a way to trigger in mid air - the force will propel the surrounding matter in all directions a little bit. Now take that same amount of gunpowder, and that same amount of matter it's propelling, but give it a barrel - boundaries - to travel down and instead of traveling a short distance, that directed energy can move something a whole lot further.  This is how I imagine creativity working.
As a creative individual the gears in our mind are constantly turning, and examining paths shooting off in all directions.  So if you give us only a very general, and broad idea of what you want, it is probably going to be more challenging to decide on that initial direction to direct our efforts, than it actually would be to produce the end result.

When you give us a direction to work in by having some clear boundaries to follow, you're putting us into that metaphorical box that we have to work our way out of. In doing so you are providing us with the crucial stepping stone that gives us something to outside of, and direct our efforts to reach a truly creative end result.

I even apply this principle to something as simple as making dinner - if you ask someone what they want to eat, and they say "I don't care" you're probably going to suggest at least five ideas before you find something they actually want to have.  Design clients are not often much different.

So next time you're going to hire a creative, think about what you really want and make sure to communicate that. Your freelancer will likely thank you - and you'll probably end up with a better and more desirable product than you or they could have imagined.

Please weigh in on your thoughts about what I said here. I fully believe this to be true, but I'd love to hear from you about why you may disagree.

On the image for this post; I have shot a whole lot of things in a whole lot of different ways, but a cardboard box wasn't really one of them so I sourced this image through Flickr. It's author is Katushiro Osabe who has provided the image under a Creative Commons, Share-Alike License. I added the title text for this article.  The textual content of this article itself is protected and all rights are reserved. 
The photo: Cardboard on Flickr by Katsuhiro Osabe
The license:

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