How Less Creates More Creativity in Business

June 14, 2019

ow Less Creates More Creativity in Business


Creativity has a funny paradox. We all would like more creativity in business! We like to think that in order to be successful in our business and creative pursuits we need lots of freedom and space. We often pursue creativity with this idea that we need a plethora of resources, time and workspace to achieve the most success from our creative business ideas.

As much as we believe this to be true, time and time again this has proven to not be the case. More creativity in business is not found by having more. It was once said that necessity is the mother of invention. It is when we are backed into a corner that our creativity hits it strides. As counter intuitive as it seems, often the best way to kick our creative mind into high gear is to put some restrictions in place (even self-imposed ones) and force our in born genius to find solutions within them.


A great example of this is the work of Robert Salazar. Mr Salazar is an environmental studies student who is using his origami art to create solar reflectors for the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“I’m currently developing large origami deployable solar reflectors for the Trans-Formers for Lunar Extreme Environments project. The project mission is to illuminate permanently shaded regions in the interior of Shackleton Crater at the south pole of the Moon. Though the rim of Shackleton Crater receives constant sunlight nearly all year long, its interior has remained in darkness for billions of years, allowing its temperature to cool to -90K (-300°F), a temperature well suited to the capture of icy debris from nearby comet impacts over the eons. The solar reflectors would be mounted in pairs on a support structure on the crater rim, and would track the sun to illuminate and power robotic explorers in regions of interest 10km below.

On the project, I design the solar reflectors and their deployment mechanisms. I use finite element analyses and simulations to determine what materials would allow a reflector to deploy very flat under tension, within 1mm/m deviation, and operate under constant solar radiation and temperature extremes for years on end, while maintaining >95 percent directional reflectivity. Then I write algorithms to design origami crease patterns that would allow a solar reflector to deploy to the size of the Statue of Liberty from a package 1 cubic meter in volume and 100kg”

(Excerpt from The Scientific American Blog Article “The Origami of Space Exploration”)

The restriction that Mr Salazar has in terms of weight and size forces a creative solution, which in this case is an intricate origami folding pattern. Needing the surface area of solar panel the size of the Statue of Liberty, but only having less than 1 cubic metre of space and 100kgs of weight to transport it, is the ultimate version of necessity giving birth to invention!


Often times in our business we can hit seasons where we feel flat and uninspired. Ironically it’s usually in these moments that we go out looking for more. We go looking for a new coach, a new course, a new software, or even a new employee. If creativity teaches us anything though it’s that sometimes the best solution is LESS! By backing our self into a self-imposed corner, so to speak, we can allow the creative solutions to bubble.

Artist do this by forcing themselves to create a new work using a single paint colour or a narrow theme to create from. The forced restriction of a singular palette forces nuanced explorations that wouldn’t be possible when the entire spectrum is at their fingertips.


As a business owner we can harness the same benefits when we use the power of restrictions. Have you been meaning to get around to blogging? What if you blocked out a day in your calendar, booked in a hotdesk at a co-sharing space, turned off all the notifications on your laptop and then forced yourself to stay there till four blogs are written? I can pretty much guarantee you would walk out of there at the end of the day with your blogs finished and a renewed sense of well being about your business.

Have a big project looming over your head that you just can’t seem to sink your teeth into? What a perfect time for creative restrictions! Shut the door, turn off the phone, and tell yourself you aren’t leaving your desk until youv’e got your breakthrough with the project.

Feeling flat and need some inspiration. Instead of buying a new business book or e-course, go to your bookshelf or your hard drive where you save all your education material, and spend an afternoon flicking through what you already have. There will be a wealth of information you had forgotten about or simply didn’t pick up the first time you went through it. There was something about that information that originally caught your attention enough to hand over your credit card details, and with a little time and attention there is sure to be more to be gleaned and learned through a second flick through.

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