The Reality of Design Constraints

In the creative process, most of the time, the last thing a person or team doing the creating is thinking about as design constraints are budget and schedule.

But budget and schedule are design constraints; boundary conditions. We see it, feel it, work with it, live with it, sell it, and buy it every day. Products and services for a cost. I’m talking in the business context here. I’m not talking about the idea of just wide-open free time to create and develop something without any boundaries. That’s got its place in our personal lives to doodle, noodle, create, in many contexts. I am talking about selling or buying a created product or service, or buying the creative process.

We purchase goods and services every day that have been created with design constraints that include spec, budget, and schedule. Once the specified performance standard is defined or revealed, then we define a schedule and a price. The result of the process can’t be “Hey, I know we put a price and schedule on this, but the creative process is what it is. It takes whatever time it takes.” No it doesn’t. It takes the time we’ve allocated for the budget established within the specification we’ve defined to create a solution within the parameters. Want to buy a car? You’ll want to define the standard (spec), budget (what you can pay) and when it will be delivered (schedule.) A car, like any other product, is a created work. The same is true with a piece of paper, an engineering service, web design, software, and on and on. Schedule and budget define how much could be invested in creating and producing the product or service.

In fact, budgets and schedules are gifts to us; signposts, mile markers, fenced pastures, defining limits and contexts, giving us a direction, identity to the work, and an expectation to be fulfilled. Finishing something is satisfying. Finishing it on time, on budget, and delivering to a satisfied client, is an art in itself, and very satisfying to both parties.

Deliver to the standard, make it a positive experience, include the client in a collaborative manner, communicate along the way, listen, develop, define, deliver value. But finish it. Ship it. Complete it. Do it within the time and budget established.

We all need end dates by which to make decisions and complete the work. The creator that can complete it and deliver the value to the client, will be sought after.

Be that person.

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