The Freedom of a Tight Brief

How constraints free innovation

Chris Guest
2 min readJul 9, 2016


Earlier this week Ash Maurya wrote about How constraints create space for innovation. My interpretation is that when the options for exploration are limited, it creates more focus on the most important problem.

The challenge, of course, is identifying where to focus and more importantly what not to do.
- Ash Maurya

Ash’s article reminded me of the favorite saying of my old colleague Nick Turner:

“Give me the freedom of a tight brief!”

Nick and I worked together at AKQA London for clients including Fiat, Sainsbury’s and many more. As ECD and leader of the creative team, Nick’s job was ensure the creative team were applying the right thought to the right problem. And this started with challenging me to ensure I was framing the correct problem for them to solve.

So Nick’s oxymoron was very deliberate. It demanded that I take away all the irrelevance, and clarify the parameters of importance. To give his team freedom, by giving them focus. Freedom from the distraction of the things that don’t matter.

This is the job of the strategic lead in an innovation company. To identify the right problems to solve, and frame the correct “How might we…” design challenge to which all design thinking can be applied.

To free the team from the concern of finding the dartboard, is to gift them a better chance of hitting the bullseye.

Because step #1 in our pursuit of Delivering Better Products Faster, is to not waste any time creating the wrong thing.

More from me:



Chris Guest

Chief Marketing Officer @ Bryte | Market Creation for Tech Premium brands | @guesto