Constraints Are Decisions You Don't Have to Make

March 8, 2019

Since I realized that constraints can produce more creative outcomes I‘ve been fascinated by it.

I think I first learned about it when the iPhone became popular and the form factor and usage patterns produced beautifully designed apps and then website and web app designs that were optimized for mobile.

I read up on it a little and there seems to be a pretty logical explanation for this.

In an environment of abundance the brain is not being challenged. The brain likes to be efficient as possible. If there is an abundance of resources it’s going to be harder to be creative because your brain has no incentive to really get into gear.

In a situation where you are confronted with resource scarcity of some kind, your brain has no choice to start turning up in order to find out how to work around the scarcity.

This results in more creative, out-of-the-box thinking.

I think there is a second element that plays a part in this as well: reduced cognitive load.

Resource scarcity could also be interpreted as: some decisions were already made for you. The fewer decisions you have to make, the more brain capacity is available to you to solve the problem at hand.