Creativity & Constraint

Neal Ford (ThoughtWorks)
Location: Ballroom I - II Level: Novice
Average rating: ***..
(3.74, 97 ratings)

Most people think that freedom engenders creativity, but the opposite is true. But too much constraint makes it hard to get stuff done. It turns out that you need just enough constraint, and figuring out what gives you that perfect level is harder than you think. This keynote investigates the relationship between creativity and constraint as it applies to software development in the modern world.

Photo of Neal Ford

Neal Ford


Neal Ford is a director, software architect, and meme wrangler at ThoughtWorks, a global IT consultancy that thinks disruptively to deliver technology to address the toughest challenges, all while seeking to revolutionize the IT industry and create positive social change. Neal focuses on designing and building large-scale enterprise applications. He’s an internationally recognized expert on software development and delivery, especially in the intersection of Agile engineering techniques and software architecture. Neal has authored magazine articles, seven books (and counting), and dozens of video presentations and has spoken at hundreds of developers conferences worldwide on the topics of software architecture, continuous delivery, functional programming, and cutting-edge software innovations. Check out his website at He welcomes feedback and can be reached at

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John Petersen
06/11/2010 6:34am EDT

The historical anecdotes remind me that what is old is new and what is new is old. Neal’s and Uncle Bob’s keynotes meshed very well together. That said, I’m not sure how much I am into the whole “Code is art” idea. I tend to view coding and programs as utilitarian things. Art is something we dwell on. Art also tends to be something that ages well. Code does not age well. Coding for me is a means to an end, the end being business value. From an art as craft perspective – we certainly should strive to be the best craftsmen we can be. Again, a well done talk!

Picture of Michael Gee
Michael Gee
06/09/2010 6:34am EDT

Neal built up to his point with a lot of supporting ancedotes, but they were mostly weak. I appreciated the 6 laws of art, or whatever that was called.

The quote from _why almost brought a tear.

Picture of Benjamin Orenstein
Benjamin Orenstein
06/09/2010 5:50am EDT

Your closing bit about _why gave me goosebumps. Great talk!

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