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The Number One Key to Innovation = Scarcity

January 17, 2011

From the Harvard Business Review Blog – this is a great piece on the importance of ‘scarcity’ to innovative thinking. This reminds me of a great excercise one of my old agency bosses did one day. As part of our own agency marketing plan, she briefed me and the creative team to come up with a great relaunch campaign and gave us what we thought was an exciting budget-  of around $50K. We attacked the brief with gusto can came back with a fantastic and multi layered cool promotion that spent all the budget. She loved the idea and then said “Now – lets deliver it within three weeks and make it work for less than $25K – not $50K”. At first, we naturally got grumpy and said it was impossible.  But – as we worked the problem, looked at the campaign again, with fresher sharper eyes – we actualy were able to delete certain aspects of the original idea, developed a better campaign, for less budget. In other words, the budget scarcity had made us explore smarter and more cost effective solution. Scarcity of budget was the driver. I have also commented before on the problems with the entire ‘brainstorming’ creative myth – something that has been highlighted by Richard Wiseman among others. And in the article below, the importance of focusing on a problem rather than going off on tangents is really clear: ” that innovation managers will more often create businesses, services, or products that are successful in the marketplace when they intentionally impose constraints during the development process.” True. Sometimes, less is more.

via The Number One Key to Innovation: Scarcity.

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