A BEAUTIFUL CONSTRAINT
– Adam Morgan & Mark Barden
Recommendation: HIGH – A practical, enjoyable read that provides simple & useful tools to help almost anyone use constraints as a source of inspiration rather than asphyxiation.
How to turn your limitations into opportunities.
This book describes how to transition from viewing constraints in a negative light (barriers) into considering them as a platform for creativity and change — using case studies from companies such as Nike & Unilever and referencing a broad range of anecdotes from people like Dr Seuss and Mick Jagger.
An easily digestible guidebook with clearly signalled chapter summaries allowing the time-constrained reader to grasp the whole book in 21 minutes!
By making a constraint beautiful, the authors encourage us to reframe our thinking, suggesting that we look at a constraint as an opportunity, not a punitive restriction, and see it as a new or better way of achieving our ambitions.
The approach of turning a challenge into an opportunity resonates with me and my approach to strategy development. When working with clients, it’s essential to identify and acknowledge the root cause of challenges upfront and then, where possible find a way to turn them into an opportunity.
One of my favourite examples of how to channel constraint into a positive, creative outcome is the story the authors use to illustrate how the famously flamboyant style of Mick Jagger’s dancing came about. According to Keith Richards: when the Stones first started, they played little venues, so small that once all the equipment was set up and the audience in place, there was only a tiny space (the size of a table) for Jagger to perform in. Jagger could have chosen to restrict his movements, to become static, hemmed in – but instead, consciously or subconsciously, he responded to the space constraint and used the stimulus to become more dramatic, engaging, compelling and unique.
I love a chart or a diagram, and ‘A Beautiful Constraint’ makes good use of both. I particularly like the chart that illustrates the attitudinal stages we go through when responding to constraints – Victim, Neutralising, Responsive Transformer and Proactive Transformer. There is an outline of each stage’s underlying premise and the strategies used to address each one to evolve our mindset and approach towards constraints.
There is also a fantastic chart entitled ‘We Can’t Because’ vs. ‘We Can If’. This is the true nugget of gold in this book – learning to transform our limitations – from limited, negative thinking into advantageous positive outcomes is what it’s all about.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in people, how to work with limiting beliefs and support people to change their mindsets – turning lemons into lemonade!
Thanks to Karl Winther for recommending the book to me!