I don’t know what your school teachers were like but mine, on the whole, were rather authoritarian. They talked, you listened, they tested. They gave out books, you read them, they tested. Their questions were predictable and if you were academic (good at storing and retrieving data) easy to answer. For many, this style of learning continued into their university days. ‘Give back to the professors what they want and you will get what you want.’

Now this is not at all to knock the education establishment. In between all the long holidays, I think I had a pretty good education on the whole. And if I look back to who I was and how my classmates behaved, I think my teachers did a pretty good job. They did what they had to do, within the constraints they were given.

And that’s basically my point. It’s the constraints that seem to have the biggest impact on the outcome. In the office too, people tend to blame a lack of performance on the constraints (not enough time, resources, restricted to certain technologies, etc.). But maybe things will change over the next few years? As the younger generation leave education, their expectations seem to be so much higher than forty years ago. My colleague tells me that many young people are suffering from premature burnouts because of their inability to meet not only their own expectations but the expectations of others too: A great performance at work to ensure a great career, a great marriage, a great house, a nice car, a fun hobby, a deep and meaningful relationship with their intelligent and well behaved children, holidays, lots of fun and laughs, great friends, adventure, great sex. The list continues.

Luckily, there’s no going back, however I believe the way forward lies in two approaches: 1. Asking other kinds of questions. Questions that lead us to focus on the things that matter the most and 2. Freeing up our constraints as much as humanly possible. This is not so much about limitation but rather better definition of the criteria in the first place, via the removal of all the criteria that restrict the creative process without adding significant value.

Have a good week,