It’s a bit counterintuitive, yet imposing constraints (with intention) can actually increase creative potential.
Think of as many silver things as you can in ten seconds.
Now think of silver things in your kitchen.
Which prompt sparked more ideas?
How to impose constraints
It’s important to be conscious of when and what constraints you impose. Imposing a constraint during idea generation is different than rejecting ideas due to preconceived notions about users. Consider these three constraint examples.
During a brainstorm, temporarily add a solution constraint. “What if it were made for babies?” “How would McDonald’s do it?”
Constrain materials to build quicker, lower resolution prototypes. Developing a checkout service? Prototype it with cardboard, post-its, and a sharpie. Designing soccer cleats? Your shoe, tape and thumb tacks. Or, impose solution constraints. How might you design it for blind users? Without plastic?
Constrain time to force output. Make two prototypes in an hour. Spend three hours with users by Friday.
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