The answer, of course, is that it’s both.
Constraint is a curse when we're trying to get a job done and one element is constrained and the other elements are inflexible. eg. If my project budget was cut in half, yet I was still expected to complete exactly the same tasks and same deliverables in the same time frame as before.
Constraint can drive innovation when we allow certain elements to become flexible. To do this, instead of focusing on the tasks and the plans we had (prior to the constraint) we ask:
‘What is the outcome we set out to achieve?”
‘In what other ways could we deliver that outcome, given the constraints we now face?”.
The other factor that determines whether constraint is a curse or a blessing is our mindset. If we think of a constraint as being negative or positive, we will look for the points that confirm that belief.
If you’re feeling constrained at the moment, try asking:
• Am I thinking of this constraint as a curse or a blessing?
• How might that be influencing my approach?
• Are there flexible variables that I have assumed are fixed?
• Have I tested those assumptions?
I’ll look forward to hearing about your experiences.