Innovating by Removing Constraints
Posted by Plish on June 18, 2009
When searching for a solution there is a tendency to try and constrain our solution by imposing rules and guidelines.
However, when dealing with people, especially people who are interacting with each other, sometimes the best rules are those which aren’t really rules at all.
In other words, the best rules are those which are simple and force people to use their brains -to think.
Granted, people often don’t want to think; we’d rather abrogate our responsibilities and kick into automaton mode. Nonetheless, we should be open to the fact that those very rules meant to make things safer and more efficient actually might be preventing a more innovative solution from surfacing.
In the video above I want you to see what happens when traffic lights are absent and all types of traffic intermingle. In particular I want you to look starting around the 00:32 mark at the person shown in this frame capture (who looks like he is about to become a statistic):
This great page on Intelligent Traffic Design by Matthew May, shows even more examples of how traffic works better without signals!
Can you think of other examples where removing constraints results in innovative solutions?
Do you think this technique would work on US streets?
Do you think this type of solution might have merit in manufacturing facilities?