Imagine you could make anything you want, right now. In any shape, in any size and in any structure that you could dream up. In theory this sounds liberating, but to most people the possibility of unlimited choices will likely feel paralyzing: What would I make? Where should I start? What do I need to consider? Those of us in innovation deal with this every day… but we know to work with specific guideposts that most people would not: creative constraints.

Constraints are the main drivers of discovery and invention. Think about the product innovator’s #1 constraint: the consumer. We all have elaborate profiles and unique names for who we are trying to design something for as our starting point. The consumer’s tastes, preferences, habits, needs and wants all help us limit the list of possibilities into something much more manageable. They help us focus on how to create new solutions and guide us in how to intuitively understand when the solution feels right, even if we’re not part of the target audience.

When solutions recognize the opportunity of the technology at hand, and combine them into new and unique forms previously unknown is when we arrive at the intersection of innovation. Whether we take an iterative path or a disruptive path, the creative constraints that all of us deal with help guide our decision making and lead us to crisp and clear solutions.