Archive for the Tag 'constraints'

Dr. Seuss: Innovating within Constraints

Point: Use a constraint to convert complexity into simplicity

Story: In 1954, Life magazine published an article on illiteracy among schoolchildren, reporting that children were not learning to read because their books were boring. “Pallid primers” featuring girls and boys who were “uniform, bland, idealized and terribly literal,” its author, John Hersey, contended. Publisher William Spaulding of Houghton Mifflin wanted to change that. He approached his friend Theodore Geisel (later known as Dr. Seuss) to write a much more lively primer. But he gave Geisel a challenge: the book could only use a vocabulary of 225 words, so that beginning readers could read it. Geisel took up the challenge. The result? The Cat in the Hat. Dr. Seuss used clever combinations of the 225 words and fanciful illustrations to create a playful story.

Action: A constraint limits the creative choices you have. Instead of viewing the constraint as merely negative and frustrating, consider the positive side: you can ignore those choices. Strip your problem to its basic elements. Then generate unusual combinations of those bare building blocks to look for a creative solution. This technique can be used in marketing, product development and strategy.

For more: Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel by Judith Morgan, Neil Morgan, Neil Bowen Morgan

3 Comments »Creativity, How-to, Innovation, New Product Development, Strategy