Using creative thinking to achieve business success

Andy Green's Tubespiration With daily pressures it’s no surprise that it can be hard to step back and look at your business with fresh eyes from time to time. Don’t panic though, help is at hand and maybe you’re just not finding the right time in the day to carry out this type of activity.

Tubespiration is where to look, a book about the London Underground and how it can help simplify your life and unleash your creativity. As the author Andy Green says, “the Tube map is a wonderful example of managing complexity… and your Tube journey a rare chance to practice masterful inactivity and use an imposed pause point in your thinking, allowing you to unleash your creative brilliance.” If you're a North East reader and prefer to localise it, feel free to swap the word Tube for Metro throughout but take a look – Andy’s point is that you have two daily opportunities to take time out and consider how you can add further value at work or even at home.

Andy starts by observing that many of us are becoming more socially engaged, with the side effect that we disengage from the real world and faced with a mobile, tablet or computer screen, expect to constantly be entertained, occupied and informed. All very well, but when does this leave us time to think? Andy posits that commuting time is one of the best opportunities to allow our brains to wander free and be creative - and perhaps we should do this at least once a week.

As he puts it: “While you are travelling, you are free…to unleash your imagination, roam unexplored frontiers, or at least create thinking time for new ideas, new solutions, new ways of doing.”

What’s interesting is that Andy encourages you to reframe how you look at challenging situations and opportunities by asking what assumptions you are making, allowing you to unravel the elements that may be holding you back. He also provides a list of further questions designed to give real insight so that you can get to where you want to be ‘faster, cheaper, better and greener’. Critically he suggests that if the immediate answers seem easy, you’re probably not approaching things right. Becoming tolerant of ‘IdeaPoo’ (ideas that might not seem good on first impression but which should not be dismissed too quickly) is important.

Reading the book will show you how Andy has cleverly linked this all with the London Underground and how you can draw upon the various lines and stations to benefit your organisation by approaching it in a different and more creative way. For example he suggests one good way of navigating a challenge is by drawing a Tube map of your problem, from the starting point, through the stops and connections you need to make to your destination, looking at how you can simplify things along the way.

Andy’s ‘Harry Beck’ test is also worth applying. Despite the genius of his map design, Harry Beck was rejected at his first attempt. Andy therefore asks his readers how they respond if someone presents them with an idea that is different to how they usually do things. If they ignore them, tell them to go away, feel threatened, add it to the pending list or have limited expectations, there is definitely work to do. According to the author, “listening with a challenging but open mind, ready to change as a result of what you’ve discovered” is really where you need to be.

Ultimately Andy’s handbag-sized book is worth a read if you want to grow and become stronger by learning how to respond flexibly to and harness all the unexpected events that life throws at us day by day. It’s bite size, easy to read and a great reminder of taking time out as ‘incubation time’ during your commute, or if you’re me, when you’re out for a run or in the bath! What’s more, one of the side effects is that you’ll know more about the London Underground than you ever thought possible. Tubespiration costs £8.99 and is available via Amazon right now.