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‘A Beautiful Constraint’ – the secret to great business solutions


This week I had the pleasure of attending an AAR-organised Face-to-Face with Adam Morgan, founder of eatbigfish, the strategic brand consultancy, and co-author of A Beautiful Constraint. A true showman, captivating and charismatic, this man really knows how to tell a story. But most importantly what he was saying hit a soft spot at the core of my being.

I am, and have always been, a positive person.

I believe in the power of focussing on what you want, rather than what you don’t want.

I believe that positivity breeds positivity and keeps energy and ideas flowing.

I know, through experience, that aiming high, without worrying about how you are going to get there, is a powerful thing to do.

Ambition should not be compromised – every person, every client, every business should hold at their core their greatest ambition. Not simply what is possible, but what they truly desire.

And that’s where Adam started. It is his belief that in order to foster truly great business solutions you need to bring together your greatest ‘ambition’ alongside your biggest ‘constraint’. In a nutshell, ‘A Beautiful Constraint’ welcomes problems/obstacles/boundaries/restrictions and it is because of – rather than in spite of - these that we are forced to think differently.

‘Constraints’ (such as finance, resources, time) encourage a new way of thinking and help us ask the right questions and, ultimately, force us to behave differently, as this quote doing the rounds on social media summarises neatly:

"Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles.

Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content.

Alibaba, the world’s most valuable retailer, has no inventory.

And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.

Something interesting is happening."

I’ve always felt that being part of a smaller agency is an advantage – being small we are nimble; we can react fast and be bold and brave in our actions.

So in the spirit of ‘A Beautiful Constraint’, rather than following in the footsteps of the big boys, this encounter with Adam Morgan has encouraged me not to try and do things better, but to do things differently. To ask questions that propel new thinking.

So expect to see a different kind of partnership brief from us in the future. This one will not ask about challenges and objectives but about ambitions and constraints.