When I worked for a non-profit, I had the opportunity to attend a board retreat. As part of the retreat, I sat at the dinner table one evening with a former Disney Imagineer (full disclosure: I was I possessed the engineering ability to be an Imagineer).
During dinner, he was talking about his work as an Imagineer and his work as an independent consultant with churches. He told the story of working a megachurch in California. His team was responsible for the new construction of their children’s facility.
I don’t remember the details, but I do remember there was an issue with a water feature they wanted to create. Local building ordinances prohibited them from doing what they wanted to do.
His response? “At Disney,” he said, “we always found out what we had to do, and then incorporate that in what we want to do.”
In other words, they clearly defined their boundaries before getting to work.
There’s one key word in the above sentence. Did you see it? It’s the word clearly. Simply acknowledging the required boundaries is not enough; those boundaries must be identified as specifically as possible.
Think of it like a fence: when you have a fence at your house, you know what property is yours. The fence separates your yard from the yard of your neighbor. And since you know how much yard you have, you are then able to design the yard exactly how you want it.
But if you didn’t have a fence and didn’t know where the property lines were, then you would have a difficult time landscaping the yard. You would be unclear as to what area you have, which would cause greater limitations on what you could create in your yard.
Why are knowing boundaries important? Because you can’t really create something great if you don’t know what you have to work with. This is opposed to the popular “think outside the box” mentality. Instead of thinking outside the box, why make it the best box ever seen? Why not leverage the boundaries to help you create something great?
Your creativity only begins when you know the parameters for your work. So start asking lots of questions to identify those borders.
Then begin drawing something great.