Book: A Beautiful Constraint

beautiful_constraint.jpgI found A Beautiful Constraint (Amazon) really helpful and interesting. I found it articulated a way that I think naturally (systems thinking / constraints in general) and gave me some extra tools to work with.

The first tool is the idea of embracing certain constraints. E.g. needing to reduce water consumption, and instead of setting the minimum goal, setting such an extreme goal that it forces your thinking to change entirely. E.g. instead of asking “how do we reduce water consumption”, asking ” how can we halve water consumption” in growing a crop.

This relates to the second tool of asking propelling questions. For example, instead of asking “how do we get everyone to wear a safety mask”, ask “how do we make it so that people don’t _need_ safety masks”, and then the specific question that ensues (in that example, a completely different kind of glue).

A third technique is reframing the questions. Instead of saying “we can’t… because…” say “we can… if we…”.

As part of reading this and the course I was taking, I ended up producing a 13 page document that worked through the constraints the team has broken through this year – and the ones we are currently working on. It was a cathartic, emotionally draining, clarifying (look how far we’ve come!) exercise, and the book really helped me and influenced the way I approached it.

This is another book on the male-and-pale reading list I’ve been working through. I actually do recommend this one, but a good alternative would be Thinking in Systems.