Friday, July 29, 2011

The Power of Constraints

One of the things I learned in the years I studied creativity and innovation was the power of constraints.  While the operating cliche was always to "think outside the box," what that normally produced was a popcorn effect with lots of ideas with little substance.  What seems to produce richer ideas is to carefully define a new box and then think deeply within its boundaries.

An example of the power of constraints came to me from my friend Polly Hubbard yesterday.  It is a short film contest with extremely restrictive constraints ... no more than 3 minutes long, with a prescribed six-line dialogue.  Within that box, anything was possible.  The winner of the contest was announced a few days and it is a moving film worth watching.  One of the fascinating things though is that you can know every word of the dialogue and still be surprised and moved.  Here's the dialog:

What’s That?
It’s a Unicorn
Never seen one up close before
Get away, get away

I’m sorry.

Now take a short break and enjoy this lovely example of creative film making:  Porcelain Unicorn.


  1. Moving and deeply thought-provoking three minutes. Even if it had no words, we would understand.

  2. It is that the words are few and the memories real that give this piece such power.


    Thank you Joyce for sharing it. My heart is touched.

  3. Wow. What a beautiful film; so moving... Thank you so much for sharing it with us!