Artificial Constraints AirBnB

Creating artificial constraints as a means to innovation

Many of the entrepreneurs I know have created new innovative startups thanks to real constraints they had. For example, I was hearing AirBnB’s Brian Chesky, on the Corner Office podcast and he mentioned that when he and his cofounder were trying to get some money to get started and the only way to keep afloat was to “rent” their air bed they had in their room. That, then led to Air Bed and Breakfast, which is now AirBnB.

This was a real constraint they had – no money to “eat” so they had to make it happen somehow.

I have heard of many stories of innovation where in the protagonists had real constraints of either financial, technology, supply, demand, economic, social or any number of other characteristics.

The interesting story that I have also recently heard of how Facebook has “pivoted” from being a desktop offering to getting a significant part of their revenue from mobile is how they were given the arbitrary constraint of only accessing Facebook via the mobile phone.

So there are ways that you can create “artificial” constraints to force innovation to happen.

Most larger companies and some smaller ones as well, have to constantly find ways to create artificial constraints – to find a way to innovate and be more be a pioneer.

While some constraints are good – lack of funds at the early stage for example and lack of resources, there are entrepreneurs that are stymied by these constraints and those that will find  a way to seek a path to go forward.

I think this is a great way for you to think about innovating in a new space. If you have constraints, find a way to use it to your advantage.


3 thoughts on “Creating artificial constraints as a means to innovation”

  1. What you are saying is “necessity is the mother of invention” in different words. “Scarcity is the mother of innovation”, if you will. I fully subscribe to this theory myself as I feel you tend to be more resourceful when a resource is scarce. People in Chennai tend to be more careful in using water than people of Mumbai as water is a scarce commodity in Chennai. Applies to almost everything. You tend to make the buck go the extra mile when you do not have enough of it. IMO, Indian jugad arises out of this.

  2. Completely agree with the the thought.
    Constraints exist everywhere and we are wired to work around that. Successful entrepreneurs have identified ways to work the constraints to their advantage. We also see that, they build this into the DNA or work culture. In other words this is also one of the reasons that startups promote an innovative culture when compared to big corporates .. Some corporate leaders have also used the same methodology trigger innovation with in big firms, but the successful outcomes are far and few ..IMO Constraints like the processes and structures in big firms are much tougher to crack than resource issues … i believe that constraints fuelled innovation is the way to go ..

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