There’s no challenge in creating something with limitless resources of manpower, money, and time. “Creativity is the inverse of dollars” is our adage. Creative thought requires severe limitations.
EXAMPLE: Painting with only five colors using a grid system made Piet Mondrian famous. It forced a different style to emerge.
By setting arbitrary, self-imposed limitations, you can improve your problem solving ability. It forces you to think different. Being unconventional, of course I love this notion.
Design limitations are things like no coding or no custom parts. Generally, there is resistance from scientists and engineers to this idea. They do not want restrictions in any way. They don’t mind sole-sourced, year-deliveries. That’s production’s problem – not theirs.
Trying to find off-the-shelf parts or plugins usually means searching harder. It means having to re-purpose an everyday object into something functional. This is called found art. You have to imagine potential use. People with weak visualization and imagination skills struggle with this. It may be why scientists can’t manage it. They have to use specialized, custom-made parts as a crutch. Twisting the purpose of a found object into something new is enjoyable.
The Stagecraft Metaphor: Judging creativity by addressing the question, “How good is good enough?”
When you visit a stage set, you’ll see temporary, crude and cheap materials. Construction is even flimsy. Paint is blobs. But from the theatre seats, everything is magical –even more real than real. Perfection wasn’t required. They didn’t have to build an actual living room for us to “feel” like we’re in one. There is the perception of perfection.
It’s good enough.
Engineers and scientists frequently goldplate products. They don’t have the discipline to say “no” to feature creep. Bloat is the result. The project is never finished. They’ve lost sight of how good is good enough. People think the “product creator” is smart. They suppose he must know more than they do. So the bloat goes unchallenged. Into the design goes the kitchen sink.
Both “C=1/$” and Stagecraft Metaphor are about product optimization.
Dictionary definition OPTIMIZATION: making something as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible.
That definition is wrong. Dead wrong. Perfection is not the goal of optimization. Good-enough is the goal. Obsessive-compulsives freak out when the hear, “Good enough.” They think “inferior.”
True optimization uses industrial value analysis. That includes combination, simplification, elimination, standardization, and substitution. You’ll notice perfection was not on that list. Nor was maximization. Sacrificing “doing the job well” was not the criteria.
Optimization is 80 percent of perfection and only 20 percent of the work (Pareto’s Law).
Watching artist’s agony is revealing.
Artists (and geniuses) are often dissatisfied with their work. Here’s the reason:
In the artist’s mind, they envision something intangible but glorious and beautiful. Making the idea tangible just doesn’t compare to how they imagined it. They see the end work as a disappointing failure. They’re unwilling to compromise.
Yet, their audience sees it as brilliant. They had no expectation. They never had a glimpse of the grand vision. To them, it’s 100% perfection.
So we learn that creative perfection is a matter of perspective. It’s relative. To improve work satisfaction requires a few things:
First, reducing our own expectation means accepting “good enough.” Allowing a personal standard (best) of 80% reduces the pressure. It’s a forgiving philosophy. It’s kinder.
Second, accepting the audience’s applause (recognition, money, etc.) for 80% performance is important. Too many geniuses say, “They’re all idiots. Their opinion doesn’t count because they’re unqualified.” Say instead, “In their eyes, my 80% work is 100% perfect.” Let that be adequate accolades.