February 09, 2009

The Reality of Constraints

Often, when we are given a project to work on, we are also given a list of constraints.

Constraints are often used to define what we must do, how we must do what we must do, and the amount of time that we have to get them done. We find ourselves constrained by the budget, by available resources, and even current understanding. They can be self implied or mandated. Explicitly dictated or implicitly assumed.

Constraints can be useful in helping us to understand the problem better. They can be a great asset in helping us to understand reality. For those of us that prefer to live life thinking about what could be, what can be, and what should be, they can be imperative in keeping us from making poor decisions that could adversely impact our customers, our coworkers, or even ourselves.

However, it is very easy for people to get so tied down to the constraints that they forget to dream altogether. If people in history had allowed the constraints of the day, such as the world being flat, to prevent them from doing things, then no one would have discovered that there was a beautiful round world full of excitement and discovery.

Before simply accepting the constraints that are given, or limiting your creative and personal potential by creating constraints for yourself based on assumptions, take some time to weigh each of the constraints. Find out if they are real constraints or if they are simply a product of the system of the status quo, created to keep you in line.

At the end of the day, you will be held accountable for seeing that the mission that you have been designed to complete is achieved. You can try as much as you like to blame failure on the constraints, you can whine about how the deck is completely stacked against you, and try to shrug off achieving your audacious goals because of obstacles. However, in the end, you are responsible for seeing to it that you are successful. Everything that you need has already been given, or will be given.

The only thing standing in your way is you and the perceived constraints that you have have given undeserved weight.

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