Fringe Legal #0030 - leveraging constraints to foster innovation

Jan 07, 2021 4:09 am

Hi


Happy New Year! I hope 2021 has started well for you.


Here are three items to keep your week going. 


Leveraging constraints to foster innovation

Contrary to what may feel intuitive, innovation and creativity thrive when constraints are present. Constraints help to bring focus on the problem(s) and provide healthy challenges to overcome.


I did a thought exercise, applying the principle above to past projects, creative endeavors, and innovation efforts. Here is where I landed-


  • Above all, mindset is critical here as it will shape your perspective. Do you see the constraints as a motivating challenge or a frustrating roadblock?
  • There is a fine-line between constraints becoming too restrictive or too loose (so that it doesn't serve any purpose). As a leader, your role is to manage this divide. The latter can be achieved by separating must-haves from nice-to-haves (a lesson that seems to be core to many home remodeling and house hunting shows :p).
  • Without constraints, the tendency is to wander towards the most obvious solution which may not be what's called for. Are you looking for the path of least resistance or the best way forward? 


Contrary to what may feel intuitive, innovation and creativity thrive when constraints are present. Constraints help to bring focus on the problem(s) and provide healthy challenges to overcome.


  • Constraints can be in the form of restricting input (e.g., decide within X time frame, or complete the project within Y budget), output (nice-to-have features vs. must-have features), or process/regulation. Having some of these constraints can also significantly reduce the planning horizon (a topic for another day :D). 
  • When done right, the result is meaningful work. The individual/team will be eager to accept the constraint and deliver measurable results.
  • Constraints don't have to be meaningful. They can and are often arbitrary and help accelerate decision making. 


If you want to explore further, then this short post by Seth Godin is an excellent place to begin, and he also discusses the idea with Tim Ferris on his podcast. 



Building Your Innovation Strategy

I'm grateful to have my article published in the Singapore Law Gazette, in which I describe three stages of the innovation journey. These are (1) building internal capability, (2) optimize service delivery, and (3) collaborate with clients.


Here's a snapshot:


From the outside, it can appear as if law firm innovation is a magical process that unfolds like a caterpillar's metamorphosis into a butterfly: one day, the firm is miraculously transformed into an efficient, effective, tech-powered competitor. But the reality is that innovation is a journey with multiple steps, some of which may produce disruptive leaps while others generate smaller incremental improvements. Wherever your firm may be in its own journey, there are concrete actions you can take to move closer to your eventual goal.


Read the full article here (4 min read)



Excel from Scratch

I'm also thrilled to announce that my Excel course is now available for free on Novum Learning. 


This is a course I initially created to solve my own problem, and the latter get some colleagues comfortable with using Excel. Since its creation, it has been taken by over 7,200 people (a number I still can't believe!).


The folks at Novum Learning are offering the course free of charge, and it's a do it in your time at your own pace format. 


  • This is for you if: you want to get comfortable using the core functions of Excel (calculations, functions, charts, etc.). 


  • Not suitable for people: who create pivot tables to relax or enjoy creating arrays - this will be entirely too easy. 


Register for free here


Stay well, and have a smashing 2021. 


Ab


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