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How Less Resources Make You More Creative

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    If your team is working hard to come up with the most innovative marketing campaign of the year, you might want to put them on a low budget and tight timeline.

    And that’s because constraints and boundaries create a hotbed for innovative creativity.

    Many of us assume creativity comes from an environment of boundless possibility — no rules or restrictions But creativity is actually driven by constraints.

    When teams work with large budgets, no guidelines, and long timelines, the possibilities can seem too large. An unlimited amount of time means you have no reason to concentrate, while an unlimited budget means you have no reason to make the wisest investments.

    But when we have less to work with, psychologists have found that we actually begin to see the world differently.

    Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and the University of Illinois conducted experiments on creativity to test the effects of having more versus having less.

    They found that new creative inventions and innovations all came from restricted resources or constraints.

    In our product-saturated world, we have little incentive to creatively maximize what’s available.

    When we have an endless supply of pre-fabricated imagination from our smartphones, video games, and TVs, our creativity muscle begins to atrophy, Mehta said.

    Mehta and Zhu concluded that when people face scarcity, they use resources in less conventional ways because they have to. Less resources push you to be strategic.

    So while you may not think of your budget getting slashed this quarter as a road to your next big marketing campaign, it may set the stage for some creative solutions you wouldn’t expect.