I recently read 'A Beautiful Constraint' by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden. For those interested in design approaches and leading innovation, I highly recommend this book. One of the most significant takeaways I found was the importance of the 'compelling question' that should guide your innovation effort. At the time I was facilitating an innovation effort with a client group who were really struggling with getting focus for their ideation.

I had them step back for a moment and introduced 2 concepts - compelling question and the 3 horizons view of innovation (near-efficiency, medium-sustaining/incremental, and long-radical). They needed to understand the context of their innovation discussions so their ideation would have a focus.Constraints are the most important design feature.

The compelling question (Morgan & Barden's view) is a combination of ambition (growth, quality, experience, impact, superiority) and significant constraint (foundation, resource, time, method). By understanding the drivers for innovation (growing new market sustainably with three year window) they now had a specific focus for their ideation. It is important the CQ doesn't specify the solution or approach - that's the magic of the ideation process. The other factor is the insight about the customer segments and their desired gains and pains. We used a human centred design approach to bring out those insights and design guiding statements.

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