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TODAY’S STORY
14 Oct
,
2022

Make constraints evident.


Simple but crucial idea today. If you're a manager or in a leadership position, do understand this to take care of a lot of unhappy sentiments bubbling up under the surface in your team or organization.

Markets are brutal, and many of the constraints they impose on businesses aren't solvable.

Market constraints like consumer behaviour, preferences, legal regulations, sociocultural conditioning... all of these can often only be worked around, not solved.

Likewise, the business has its own constraints: budget, talent, external dependencies, timelines, and the speed at which the competition is executing on, to name a few.

So, while good leaders always emphasize on creativity and thinking out of the box, they make sure they complement that message with the hard constraints on exploration, investment, and resources.

If, as a leader, you don't make constraints legible to your team up front, you might be setting them up for lots of creative exploration that will eventually end up in disappointment as they find out that the company doesn't have the resources to invest in their ideas and bring them to fruition.

And talking about constraints is not a sign of weakness or pessimism. It is trying to be real with your employees so they in turn can be real with you.

Bad managers and leaders keep information about boundaries, budgets, and other limitations only to themselves — only to mention them and shoot it down after someone has voiced an idea, or worse, spent a lot of time and effort building it.

But sometimes, all the constraints may not be evident till you start executing an idea. This is why making fast decisions and shipping quickly is so important.

It's not always easy to judge how hard or easy it will be to build something. Some problems look deceptively easy on the surface but reveal a tonne of constraints when people actually start working on them. Rapid prototyping allows the team to get a sense of how much work is actually involved in building something.

The sooner you make a decision, the sooner you will know from your team what is achievable, and the sooner they will be able to expand upon the idea and use their talents to bring it to fruition. The time you spent not deciding is time you rob from your team's ability to make whatever the object of the decision is, the best it can be.

Coming up with all sorts of creative ideas that come up during a brainstorming session is okay, but if hard constraints are not made clear at the start, most of these ideas will have to be shot down.

You don't want that. Because to follow up a good thing — "Let's wear our creative hats!" — with a bad reward mechanism — "Sorry, we can't do this at this point in time." — is a good recipe to prevent your team from ever thinking creatively again.

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