I recently listened to Aza Raskin speak at the Webstock conference in Wellington. Aza was named the 2011 Master of Design, and one of the top 40 influential designers by Fast Company. Aza is the founder and CEO of Massive Health, and was until recently Creative Lead for Firefox and a founding member of Mozilla Labs.
In his talk Aza stated :
“it’s not about thinking outside the box. It’s about finding the right box to think inside.”
This really stopped me in my tracks. Too often we are trying to break out of the constraints we find ourselves in rather than looking at all the unique opportunities those constraints offer us. He then challenged us with the statement:
“Constraints create creativity”
How do obstacles change perceptual and conceptual scopes? Aza showed the following as an example:
Constraints force us to think differently. Apparently it has been found that if you encounter a detour on your way home you are more likely to eat something different for dinner. Constraints change habits.
It is via the constraint that we can overcome mundaneity and banality, it forces us to break our habits. Focused obstacles and questions are just constraints.
So … How do we ask the ‘right’ question?
The way to solve a problem is to know how to ask the right question—turn a difficult question into an easier question by changing the way you ask it. Most of the time we are trying to solve the wrong problem because we don’t understand what the problem is.
After reflecting on this talk I came to the conclusion that it is fabulous to have a mindset that revels in constraints, and embraces challenges that change habits. This would be a great way to approach our schools and our classrooms.
This brings to mind the story of three teachers who embraced their constraints and created a new way to teach their students.
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