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Do You Use Creative Guardrails?

Do You Use Creative Guardrails?

Stewart Hillhouse
Stewart Hillhouse

The word Creativity has baggage. Creativity will have wildly different definitions depending on who you ask.

To a civil engineer, it might mean finding a unique way to drain water from a ditch.

To an agency designer, it might mean finding a new way to offer services to their clients.

Both are examples of creativity. But both have different outcomes.

And what I've found is that creativity is only effective when you give yourself guardrails.

Imagine that engineer suggesting they build a massive dam as a way to divert the water?

Or if the designer suggested offering feature length animated movies as a service?

While both those answers used creativity, they're not actually useful. Because while they offer a solution, they don't take into consideration the boundaries of the problem.

If instead they both defined their constraints — their guardrails — beforehand, they would know the boundaries to play within.

The engineer would know that their budget was $10,000 and it must be resistant to ice in the winter.

The designer would know that their employees are already maxed out and in need of more systems.

With those guardrails in place, we can now apply our creativity to solve the problem.

Creativity is counterintuitive — the more constraints, the more your creativity will flourish within the boundaries.

Ensure you define success first before using up all your creative juices on the wrong solution.

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