Constraints are challenging to design and apply; however, they are necessary to help us understand the parameters of success. We face constraints every day, and our bodies require food and water; we need oxygen to breathe. If the body does not receive nutrients or we hold our breath for a prolonged period, then the system enabled by these constraints will become compromised somehow. For our bodies, we will experience starvation or deadening of the brain and mind. We live within these constraints daily, enabling us to live our lives. These are enabling constraints, and they allow our organic designed life components to function.
Constraint design is a fundamental skill when leading with adaptation. Well-designed constraints enable the people operating within the system to make decisions that fit within those parameters. For example, a deadline is an enabling constraint. A deadline is an enabling constraint because we are defining a time constraint. A time constraint is like a budgeting exercise, but what activities happen within a time constraint? Often these will create actions like compromises, tighter prioritization, and more frequent communication while invoking emotions like anxiety, a sense of urgency, and compromising behaviors that lead to frustration or arguments within the group working within the time constraint. Delivering the work within the time budgeted for that effort creates another set of emotions and responses like happiness, pride, excitement, and accomplishment.