Constraints lead to faster feedback. Whether they are limits on space, time, money or other resources, constraints can improve our agility and get our synapses firing at lightning speed. Author Daniel Coyle posits that skateboarders are some of the quickest learners in the world, because they receive incredibly fast and useful feedback — every action, every move they make has an immediate consequence. There are numerous instances of coaches in various sports (soccer, swimming, baseball) shrinking the space their athletes train in to increase reps and improve feedback. When there is less of a cushion between oneself and failure, innovation becomes a necessity.
A compelling example of this in the business world is Lit Motors. Following Eric Ries' Lean Start-up methodology, instead of going out and raising VC money to manufacture a new electric automobile, Daniel Kim funded his start-up through pre-orders. With a completed prototype in hand, Lit Motors has proven the power of financial constraints. "We're at the same place that Tesla was at after $7 million in investment after only $780,000. We've been incredibly resourceful," Kim states in a recent interview in The Atlantic. Clearly, Kim has been forced to make smart choices to keep his start-up costs low, and investors are eager to work with him because of it. The fact is that we are always going to be resource-constrained, but a willingness to work with our limitations may make all the difference in getting an idea off the ground.
Constraints make people more creative