Friday, January 20, 2012

Put the squeeze on constraints

Innovation happens when there are constraints.  When time, money or options run out people get creative. And the payoffs can be big.

Simplicity Sofas come with a money back guarantee, promising their line of “F.I.T.S” (Furniture In Tight Spaces) will work in any small space.  And for 4 years, they never paid a claim because they met the challenge of putting furniture through dauntingly tight spaces without a hitch.  But last year, they met their match when one of their specialized sofas would not fit down a tight basement stairwell.  So, true to their word, they refunded the purchase.

And then they went to work.  They produced a new sectional that today accounts for 25% of their business.  And the customer with the tight staircase who created the original “problem” got the new design, free of charge!

What constraints do you face in making your workplace a place of ensoulment?  No budget?  A manager that doesn’t give a flip about people?  A multi-year track record of pitiful morale? A hostile co-worker? The tighter the constraint, the more opportunity there is for innovation.  And, in turn, the greater the possibility for a really big payoff. 

One group of people I know had no budget for continuing education for years.  In response to that constraint they started a “lunch learning” program where they used various blog posts from provocative thinkers like Seth Godin and TED Talks to address the issues in their own business.  It was crazy effective and completely free. 

What is stopping you?  Embrace your constraints.  Ensoul your workplace.

Here is a photo of the challenging stairs the Simplicity Sofas folks faced.  You can find the story of the “narrow stair innovation” here….


  1. i like this concept a lot. constraint fosters creativity. i'll be using this one with my staff!