Constraint can be one of the most powerful forces behind ingenuity—and no constraint is more powerful than time, says Kellogg School’s David Schonthal.
He offers four suggestions for how innovators can use time to their advantage.
- Hit it and quit it. Give your team a very short period of time—no more than 10-15 minutes—to generate as many ideas as possible related to a specific prompt. Then work from there. “When you take a resource [such as time] and constrain it, it forces people to do more with less, and oftentimes they come up with unexpectedly creative solutions,” he says.
- Launch to learn. You don’t need to spend a lot of time refining your concept before showing it to others. “Take the minimum viable version and get real reactions from real people,” Schonthal says. Be up-front with customers and let them know you’re showing them products in beta. “Yes, there’s the danger of falling on your face, but you don’t want to spend $50 million making the same mistake that you could have made much sooner for less money.”
- Iterate often and quickly. Don’t just assume that things will go well. Factor in time for lots of iteration cycles—prototyping, testing, analyzing and refining your product—and move through those cycles as quickly as possible.
- Take time to reflect. “Sometimes the best next step is taking a look back at what’s happened already,” he says. This allows you to determine whether your product is acting as intended or if you need to course correct.
See the full Kellogg Insight: “Four Ways Innovators Can Use Time to Their Advantage.”