Finding Creativity in Constraint with Stephen Kieran, Founder at KieranTimberlake

What can Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham teach us about the relationship of creativity and constraint? How can we use those lessons to have better conversations with customers?
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This episode features an interview with Stephen Kieran, Partner at famed architecture firm, Kieran Timberlake.

When we work with less, we might feel boxed in. But, we have so many opportunities to get creative that we easily overlook. Complexity has a way of limiting creativity. On this episode of Often Imitated, we explore how working within constraints can help anyone from a heralded architect, to an iconic author produce their best work.

Insight: The power of constraints and limitations

Inspiration: Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham

Modern Day Execution: Stephen Kieran, Partner at KieranTimberlake.

Three Takeaways

  • The best creatives have a dialogue with both their audience/users and the materials they use to create. Instead of sprinting towards the finish line, they’re keyed into their work and constantly assessing its progress at every step.
  • Whether you’re building a business or a building, keep context in mind. What you build doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it’s in constant conversations with customers and other stakeholders.
  • Doing the prep work makes it easier to produce creative work. When you come into a project with a deep understanding of the challenge, and its context, you can get more creative and operate on instinct.

Key Quotes

  • “We wanted to ask elemental questions, assume nothing, and build a practice of a culture of inquiry that was with us on our first day.”
  • “The design process becomes really simple when complexity fades and what you’re making talks back to you and tells you what to do and what not to do.”
  • “It’s easy to make something that’s beautiful by eliminating constraints. What we’re after is something that’s deeper than beauty.  We’re after something that transcends. ”


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This podcast is presented by Oracle CX.

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