I’ve been looking for a solar charger for my gadgets for camping and power outages. Perusing the options at Amazon or REI, everything is too small, too big, too delicate, or way too expensive. Then I stumbled upon the ReadySet Solar Kit by Fenix Intl.
It’s compact, sturdy, and charges a range of gadgets. Why? It was designed for use in African villages where people may have cell phones, but they don’t have electricity. The company that designed it didn’t set out to sell it in the US, but by designing their device to meet the constraints of African villagers, they made a device that is potentially useful everywhere.
It’s easy to get excited about big projects with massive budgets, but sometimes it’s the small projects where we find the opportunities to be most creative. Early on during my time at Allen, we signed several large training consulting and development projects with budget for massive innovations. I didn’t get assigned to these and was stuck working on a number of small projects that didn’t seem nearly as exciting.
One of those projects was for a group doing outreach to children in the developing world, and their project required translation into a number of languages. Before that project, translations were a copy and paste job. It was time consuming and expensive to do things this way, and it was so easy to make mistakes.
To meet the budget constraints of our client, we developed a tool that made exporting and importing content for translation as easy as clicking a button. Somebody still has to actually do the translating, but we cut out a huge chunk of the time translations used to take. That might not seem like a big deal, but it’s an innovation that we use regularly. It’s made it possible to translate much bigger projects.
You may not have budget for bells and whistles like videos, motion graphics, infographics, or a custom photo shoot. You may not even have budget for audio, but there are still ways to find room for creativity and innovation. In fact, those sorts of limitations are often the kind of impetus we need to push us to develop new tools and processes that change how we do things going forward.
I love the concept that constraints are more empowering than limitless time, budget, and human support. Once I told my dad that I could design a really great room if I had all the money in the world, and he challenged me. That conversation helped squash my notion that quality was equivalent to or even proportionate to resources.