The Freedom of Constraint


Photo by Eni Turkeshi

Photo by Eni Turkeshi

I’m baaaackkkkk, and going through my google reader have come across several interesting and provocative posts – some of which I want to talk about next time.

But I just came across an excellent post by Ellen at Foresight 20/20 that I’d like to share.  It’s all about how understanding constraints helps deliver a sharper outcome – which should be the ultimate business aim.  

I remember really early on in my career where an advertising creative said to one of our mutual clients “Just give me the freedom of a tight brief”.  Wow, I thought.  How profound.  But hadn’t really thought how it impacted me.  So many times I have thought of this sentence though in the past few years as the role of research evolves to be more insight focused, than information focused…

– So when a client calls and asks for a quick turn around job with a “verbal” brief I freak out a little…and because they are in a rush they may forget to pass on a few things they really need to know 

– at the start of an ideation workshop where a facilitator says “today we have nothing that should hold us back and we are just going to come up with ideas” I have an intense fear the next 8 hours will waste a lot of everyone’s time. Sure it’ll be fun!…but not when all the ideas are created around a production process the company has no capex to develop.

…etc etc

It’d be like if I walked in to moderate a focus group without a discussion guide, or if I asked someone to go to the shops for me and buy some “stuff” without giving them a list.

When clients can’t give us a brief, we always write one for them, to make sure this is what they want. It is often a straight forward process (esp. if for a concept test, a volumetric study, brand positioning piece). But often this is harder to get to when starting off an innovation process.  Production process limitations, profit expectations, supply chain constraints; not many of these have been thought through. 

Ellen pretty much sums it up when she says;

“Design is about problem solving.  Problem solving needs constraints.  Otherwise it’s just decoration, and that’s a different task altogether.”


Filed under marketing

2 responses to “The Freedom of Constraint

  1. Pingback: Constraints - Existing or TBD?

  2. Pingback: Just write… « kelpenhagen

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