18 May 2014
Go for a walk
Hello. Hopefully you came looking for inspiration. And why not, there’s an awful lot of fantastic inspirational writing here.
But I’m going to ask you to switch off your computer and go out and do something less boring instead: I’d like you to go for a walk (the clue was in the title I guess). Seriously, put your computer to sleep and go for a walk. Now.
Still here? OK, how about this: if you’ve got a problem to solve or you need to generate some ideas around a theme, go for that walk now and look at things that you see on your walk. Pick a thing and try to frame your problem or theme in relation to that thing. How can you use it to solve your problem or generate ideas? This is a technique which I first learned at an excellent UX Bristol workshop run by Matthew Solle and Nic Price and it really does work. It’s all about shifting perspective, a technique that’s also the basis of brainstorming with random words or random objects or indeed using cards such as Oblique Strategy Cards or Constraints Cards as part of your design process. So yeah: go do the walking, looking at things, problem framing, perspective shifting thing. Walkies!
Right, you’re still reading. Seriously, I want you to stop reading and go for that walk. Just twenty minutes. If it’s raining, put your coat on. What’s that? You need more convincing that you’re going to get something out of this? And you want to read more stuff before you decide that going for a walk is for you. Sigh, fine. Check out James Webb Young’s ‘A Technique for Producing Ideas’, a book you can read in about ten (OK, maybe twenty) minutes before you nip off for a walk. Incredibly, it’s about seventy years old. It was written to teach a very simple technique for creative thinking to advertising students and professionals. To summarise (badly): it’s about gathering raw materials, working these over in your mind for a bit and then doing something else to give your subconscious mind time and space to chew properly thereby allowing inspiration and ideas to spring forth. That something else might be bathing or showering (we’ve all experienced the Eureka cliché, don’t deny it), watching a play, having a nice meal or (yeah) going for a walk. I can say with certainty that every single talk or blog post that I’ve written has been conceived and/or developed on my daily 6am dog walk. So you should try it. Now.
This is getting silly. You should not be reading this. You could be half way through the most amazing, thought-provoking walk of your life but instead you’re about three quarters of the way through a blog post. I’m going to have to resort to dirty geek bribery. I’ve got an extremely limited number of special bouncingdan designed, fffunction approved “I went for a walk” stickers . Tweet us with some evidence of your walk or even better the amazing creative outcome which I’m guaranteeing to you right now will occur and we’ll get a sticker to you*. You can stick it on your laptop lid and it will then be seen by thousands of people watching your keynote at some megabucks conference which you’ll be invited to as a direct result of the incredible stuff you did after going for a walk. Thus granting you membership to what is surely the most exclusive club ever advertised on a blog post written by me on the Pastry Box Project. Boom. Off you go.
* This is not a binding contract; not everyone will get a sticker; the value of stickers can go down as well as up.