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Last year my wife and I were facing some significant uncertainty. It looked like we were going to have to move away from out little corner of paradise and find a new home to put down roots.

And so started the house-hunt.

Of course the ideal houses were always just outside of our budget.

When we looked at what was within our budget, what we found was a clear delineation between crappy but fixable, and crappy and immovable. A wall can be painted and a kitchen remodelled, but a noisy bordering road can’t be moved.

Each house had it’s own set of limitations – however, it’s those limitations that create uniqueness and often new value. While a house stuck in a flight-path might sell for 10% less than those around it, A Magic The Gathering Card with only one print is worth $2Million (about 1,000,000x the cost of a normal card).

Constraint definitely affects value, but not always negatively.

In change projects, the consideration of constraints is part of standard practice, yet we all have tendency to focus on the negative limitations: “Things we can’t do, or don’t have”.

What if you flipped that narrative?

Sure, constraints create limitations. But they can also create creativity (have you ever seen the inside of those tiny houses!?). Constraints can also create demand (want someone to want something? – Tell them they can’t have it!).

(Quick note: the trick with positive constraint is to tell everyone about it…)


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Create new constraints within your project that work in your favour.

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Brendon Baker

Brendon is a leading expert in strategic framing and inside-out change. He has led and guided over $11 Billion in transformative projects and programs, from transformations to teddy bears. He is the author of the best-seller Valuable Change, and niche top seller Creating High Value PMOs. Brendon now spends his time helping leaders cut through the noise to focus on what matters; working with them to create new realities.

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