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Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Value of Constraints for Creativity

 Even if you don't embed them formally, we found, as in an optimization.  It states the walls to bounce off of.   Note the use of 'some' in the statement, which then requests the next word:  which?

The Role of Constraints in Creative Problem-Solving

Paper:  https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/21-068_2425a8e8-7eaf-47fa-8db3-4061c303f606.pdf  

by Daniel Ehls, Karim R. Lakhani, and Jacqueline N. Lane,  in HBS Working Knowledge

This study shows that constraints can support creative problem solving in a consumer electronics setting. Adding (some) constraints increased the quantity and quality of strong ideas generated and selected through an open innovation process.

Author Abstract

The role of constraints in the problem solving process has been a central line of inquiry in the creativity and innovation literature with ongoing debates of whether constraints imposed on creative problem solvers diminish or enhance their efforts and outputs. We investigate this question by designing and executing a field experiment in collaboration with a world leading company in consumer electronics seeking creative solutions through a community crowdsourcing program to improve the wearing comfort of their popular headphones. We mobilized 1,833 problem solvers, 331 ideas and 435 community evaluators to rate the quality of the solutions, for a total of 2,473 evaluator-solution pairs. To make experimental comparisons, we exogenously varied the number of constraints faced by the community problem solvers to determine how exposures to constraints affected the number and quality of solutions. We find causal evidence that moderate levels of constraints increase both solution quantity and quality. Compared to problems framed with no constraints, having some constraints causally increases a solvers’ likelihood of proposing a solution by 6% or 1.5 times. Turning to solution quality, we find that while constraints decrease the average novelty of solutions, they have no effect on the most novel and useful solutions. Lastly, we observe an inverse curvilinear relationship between the number of constraints and the most creative solutions, where problems with some constraints increase the likelihood of coming up with one of the most creative solutions by 3–4% compared to problems with no constraints. We discuss the implications of our findings to the creativity and problem-solving literatures. .... 

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