Creative Constraints

We hate constraints. We like to think about how great we’d be “if only”. If only we had more time. If only we had more money. If only we had a better education. If only our parents had driven us more often to play with a different and better set of friends than those next door.

Yet, many of our best innovations come about because of constraints. 

Jeep - 49 Days in the Making

The second most recognizable shape in the world is the Jeep seven-bar front grill (the first most recognizable shape is Disney’s Mickey Mouse head). 

Even if you aren’t an automotive enthusiast if you have never read the story of how the Jeep came to be designed I’d encourage you to.

It was war time. The Army needed a small, easy-to-assemble vehicle that could be carried and dropped from airplanes, carry 3 soldiers, go 50 miles an hour, and weigh 1300 pounds or less. They put together a spec and sent it to the companies making automobiles at the time. These companies were given 11 days to respond with a bid. And then? 49 days to have a working prototype.

Can you imagine?  If often takes me longer to build a small business website than that.

Most companies didn’t respond.

But someone was hungry.

Someone liked a challenge.

Someone wanted that job.

Someone accepted the constraints and innovated within them.

And someone designed a vehicle that won the hearts of soldiers, carried the war, and went on to become a successful peace-time vehicle used in many industrial applications as well as launching a whole industry of recreational vehicles.

Our Constraints

In order to experience some long-term travel we’ve also had to introduce constraints. We’ve constrained our space, our clothing, our toys, and the length of time we spend in one location. You might think that some things would be hard to do given those constraints. One of those things that might be hard to do is for our kids to:

  • Find another traveling family, period
  • Find another traveling family with similar values and viewpoints
  • Be able to spend time with that family
  • Build friendships
  • Find a common interest in stop-animation
  • Decide to collaborate on the creation of a longer one
  • Write a script
  • Scrape together an audio recording studio
  • Recruit actors for different parts
  • Schedule recording sessions while traveling
  • Do the stop-animation production
  • Edit the final product and post it to YouTube

Our Creatives

RV’s can be production studios. Pickup trucks can be audio recording studios. Family members can be voice actors. Script collaboration can happen via email and Facebook.

And kids can work within provided constraints to follow their interests and passions to create pretty cool stuff.  Congrats to both Joel and Harrison for embracing constraint to create:

LEGO The Making of Jock Blackbond and the Fool’s Gold

The creators at play

The creators at play

LEGO The Making of Jock Blackbond and the Fool's Gold

2 Comments Creative Constraints

  1. Picture of Jenni Jenni July 28, 2013

    I’m going to link this post because I just love the way you worded this. Perfect. And your history on the Jeep and constraints remind me of that scene in Apollo 13 where all the engineers get in a room with a box full of stuff and have to figure out how to fix the air filter problem. I believe the best stuff really happens when we have to leap hurdles and deal with constraints.

  2. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink July 28, 2013

    I remember that scene !

    Thanks for the comment - link away!

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