I have been a member OrangeTheory Fitness for about a year and half now (no they did not pay me to say that). I was working out today and marveling at how they keep me interested in coming back. A year is a long time for me to do anything when it comes to working out. I get bored fast.

Orange Theory goes against the grain of the typical gym. The location is purposefully small so space is a premium. They have three stations: run via treadmills, rowers, and weights. As you look it at, it’s not very interesting, and there are many constraints: space restrictions, work out options, participants, and class availability.

Here’s the cool thing. I can always find a class to take, I’m never bored, and it’s the longest I’ve ever done one workout style. How is that?

Constraints create innovation and growth.

Due to the constraints they created, Orange Theory has to be very creative about how to innovate, productize, and service clients. The workouts are always different. They have added bands, carts, medicine balls, rotations, contests, community and all that has kept me as a client and someone who talks about it to others.

So, what about your business? Are you out of shape?

In your company, you have areas that need constraints to create innovation and growth. You’ve grown a little flabby and content. You have become comfortable with “the way it’s always been done” and it is making you slow, bored, and waste time.

What constraints could put you on the path to fitness and innovation?

Let’s take an easy one. Meetings.

Meetings are necessary and yet a waste of time, money, and resources when done ineffectively. You have many of these meetings.

What if your meetings had constraints that made them more productive, effective, and moved your company forward?


No Agenda, No meeting
I instituted a rule at one company where you could leave any meeting that didn’t have an agenda. You could get up and walk out and go back to doing something productive without any explanation or apology, even if that meeting was with me.

The challenge at the company was that meetings were loose and full of tangents and never ended with clear action steps which created … another meeting!

Don’t know why you are meeting? Don’t know what you are going to accomplish at this meeting? Don’t have a meeting.

People quickly got the message and there ended up being a pre-meeting 5 minute “get the agenda right” conversation vs. no agenda or lousy agenda.

Why are meetings 30 minutes or an hour? Because they have always been that way and it makes a perfect neat box on my calendar. Chopping 10-15 minutes off a 30 or 60-minute meeting makes you have more direct honest conversations cutting a lot of the bull out of getting to the point. It also gives you back time to think about what you talked about or are going to do next. The time to go to the bathroom or refresh that cup of coffee between events is a small bonus as well.

One Acumen partner instituted that all executive meetings had to be on Tuesdays. All other days were to be in the field or doing deep work. What happened? Meetings got shorter and extremely productive. If you could only meet on one day, you better make some decisions on that day. The cost of another week is just too much. Like time, constraining frequency and availability creates blunt, open, honest conversations that move your business forward.

Meetings are just one way to constrain your business to change behaviors generating momentum and growth. Your company will be healthier and more physically fit.

What else inside your business needs constraints? Outside your business? What about your life?

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
Proverbs 14:8