Limiting Success or Limitations for Success? By: John Felechner

Of the perfect world in the modern age, limitations carry a wide array of connotations. Some would say they are the enemy of progression, a restriction of possibility, the confinement of new ideas and shackles on the wrists of serenity. However, limitations are often mistaken as constraints. The difference is trivial, but limitations specify one’s inability to execute a pre-mapped outcome. Whereas constraints are like uncharted lands waiting to plot new paths of discovery. As humans, we often believe our limitations are exposed by failure to accomplish a premeditated outcome. In reality, limitations are nothing more than perceived difficulty manifested by the skepticism, disbelief, and hesitation of the task. It is this uncertainty of approach where constraints become limitations and the undertaking of a task teases our mind. That being said, it’s important to understand how and when limitations or constraints are either beneficial or destructive respectively. In the graphic communications field, it would be unmanageable to perform certain tasks that are imperative to careers throughout the industry without constraints or limitations. In fact, they depend on the foundation they lay in order to run efficiently. Do constraints hold back or promote creativity? Can limits benefit production and how do leaders constrain their attitude? These are all very important concepts that may often be over looked or unappreciated by those who use them.

Think of a time when a project or paper had found its way onto your to-do list. Typically, when starting a project from scratch it’s tough to narrow down the direction of research. In fact, trying to decide what would be interesting or intriguing for the expected audience can be extremely overwhelming. At some point in time, everyone has faced the wall of choice blocking them from carving new ideas. Think of a time where the project at hand had certain specifications to meet and ideas to avoid. These constraints of sorts stress the idea to think outside of the box and lay a guideline for what is acceptable. This is due to the idea that limitations are sometimes necessary for perceptual advancement. Think of it this way, in the graphic communication and printing industry there are several steps to consider when taking on a project. In the pre-media and design phase of the job it can be vigorous undertaking when trying to conceptualize what a finished product should look like. It’s one thing to take a class where a teacher might give his or her students a mock post card assignment and provide an example of what the finished product should look like. In graphic communications, this is a very sought after trait for employees to decipher ideas as well as creating the printed work for a customer. For instance, lets say a large format printing company is approached with a job to make new bus wrap advertisements promoting a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. The restaurant owner’s wishes to have fifteen of these wraps made for a bus company that agreed to advertise them and needs the design of the print created by the printing company. In order to create the ads, the the restaurant owner needs to provide some details of what he wants to be on them. In some cases, this could be a detailed description which would only take a few variations to get approved or it could be a vague and several iterations of the concept would need to be created. The challenge for the designer is to try and limit the customer choices. The designer’s job is to set in stone what should be on the layout so the designing has an ultimate goal. Eventually, taking the details described for what should be on the bus wrap and providing a few concepts that fit the description.

I would bet that the last trip to the super market you made a grocery list. Organizing your thoughts into a written list of what’s needed is easy. But what is the purpose of creating a list whenever it’s time to go to the store? Think of a time where you didn’t have a list and found yourself struggling to remember what to buy. The list shouldn’t affect your capacity to remember the same groceries on a week to week basis. So why does this happen? The immobilizing effects of decision making is to blame. Sooner or later the anxiety of choosing between two different brands might degrade the satisfaction of having a product later. Furthermore, individuals on tight schedules would potentially suffer from too many choices. Keeping track of what’s needed to be done on a personal level typically relieves stress. In the graphic communication industry, it’s just as important for a business to pace the number of jobs and constraining customers to certain number of choices. Organization on a personal level is typical concept amongst people in the work force. When it comes to printing its vital for the printer to limit the number of jobs that come to the door. For many reasons this benefits several aspects of the company. The first of which is financial opportunities. From a financial outlook, keeping a steady flow of jobs and avoiding fluctuation allows the company to avoid outsourcing work to other print shops. When this happens the company providing the outsourced work doesn’t necessarily create a future relationship with that customer but a portion of the revenue is paid in exchange for the services. On top of this, the original printers estimate for the job is also acquired by the outsourced shop which can result in undercutting the original costs. The second is overall customer satisfaction. If we look at the bus wrap scenario and the efforts that go into designing the ad the customer is eventually going to have to choose a final concept for the layout. Like the vast number of choices in the grocery store, it’s going to be much easier for the customer to make a choice if they have a list. In the case, the list is the narrowed down number of concepts to show them. In the end they will be much happier with fewer choices. On the other hand, limited choices can sometimes backfire for those needing something specific. If we look back to the grocery store example, variety of choice is sometimes necessary for those who have food allergies. Different brands could very well use different ingredients to make their products. When comparing this printing, it would correlate with missing a job opportunity. For instance, if a job is declined because the current job schedule is full for when the job needs to be completed its likely that customer will probably search for another printer.

There always comes a time when its necessary to step up as a group leader. In some cases, it’s for something like a sport where the leader in this situation would be the captain of the team. The captain isn’t always the player who is the best on the team but rather the individual who inspires hope. It’s their job to ensure that each individual on the team understand what they need to do in order to win. The captain and the coach work together in a way where the coach creates a game plan and the captain helps ensure that plan is carried out a smoothly as possible. For this to happen he must take the responsibility of controlling the game by communicating what plays need to executed. After setting the game plan, all he can do is encourage his team to work hard and take care of themselves on and off the field. This can be a difficult task for the leader because he can’t control how his teammates respond and how they interpret his message.

When it comes to becoming a leader in your business there are certain rules that one must follow. Similar to a team captain, a project manager in the graphic communications industry has to work with his boss to create a job plan. After this it’s his job to communicate what needs to happen to get the job done. For example, if we think back to the bus wrap advertisement for the restaurant owner, the manager would have to set up a time with his design team to brainstorm the layout. At this early stage of the job the manager can only lay the foundation and order of processes. Similar to the captain, the project manager can only relay the information but can’t make the designers creative. For the most part he is limited to driving the flow of the project in the way that it needs to go but can’t control the desire for the rest of the team to create good work.

Reflect on a time that a digital magazine interested you. Does it target a specific genre of content or does it provide a various number of columns to choose from? Typically, magazines will have a number of different issues that touch on current hot topics specific to each one. This is nice when an individual is trying to get a broad idea of what’s current in a wide variety of markets. What if you want to read more information on one specific topic? A common strategy for magazine publishers is to produce another edition of the magazine that focuses on only one genre of content. When limiting to one section of content and expanding the information on it, creates a market of readers who just want that content. For the publisher this creates an opportunity to sell this edition at a slightly higher cost then the standard version. amongst the modern generation of readers there are those who seek specifically tailored and concentrated information to match their interests. Additionally, this insinuation for tailored content is frequently something asked for in the tastes of the reader. This is typically where its gets tricky for the magazine publisher. Although there is probably a market for specified magazine editions, it might be difficult for it to be legitimized amongst the target audience. For this to kick start, an easy solution for the publisher would to start data collecting what the current readers of the original magazine spend their time reading. Typically, this can be done by suggesting certain topics via email blast. From the point, the publisher can track exactly how many views each article has revived and thin out he one that have the least. Once the topics have been limited, another email could be sent out suggesting a specific edition of the article based on these results.

In creative industries where individuals harness ideas and blossom them into reality, it’s important to wonder; Can limits benefit production? And how do leaders constrain their attitude? These are all very important concepts that may often be over looked or unappreciated by those who use them. In many aspects constraints and limitations can harm the ideas of progression and restrict what could be created. As humans, we often believe our limitations are exposed by failure to accomplish a premeditated outcome. In reality this is nothing more than perceived difficulty manifested by the skepticism, disbelief, and hesitation of the task. More often than not these restraints need to be examined in a better light rather than accepting the strain for what it is. These constraints of sorts stress the idea to think outside of the box and lay a guideline for what is acceptable and even create new markets of content. What’s important to understand is this the foundation for progression. It’s a maze where the answer is found inside the middle where new concepts come to grow. New ideas are often just limitations teasing our mind with a problem that has yet to be unlocked. This is the principal that is sometimes necessary for perceptual advancement and business growth.

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