Definition of Enabling Constraint

What is Enabling Constraint?

A term Erin Manning & Brian Massumi coined for rules that limit actions to enable novelty.

How Do You Enable Constraints?

Blocking — the deliberate construction of an enabling constraint becomes a critical tool to human creativity.

An Example Enabling Constraints

Choose a vegetable that you have in abundance -- say carrots or onions. Get them out and be with them for a moment.

The goal is to make a dish that only uses this one ingredient (plus, water, oil, salt, and heat).

That's the enabling constraint.

How many distinct and different flavors, textures and forms can you experimentally coax into emergence and stabilize as something unique?

Can you experiment to get at a minimum three unique qualities to emerge which then can be combined in various processes and rations to make a dish?

See: Blockage & Rules.

Read More About Constraints

For more, navigate to our complete list of articles on constraints for innovation.

on What Is Innovation, and How to Innovate

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