Reading about @peterwalker99’s interview with @citiesforpeople in The Miracle Pill has reminded me of one of my favourite concepts I’ve learnt in my professional career — which is that experts pretty much all agree on where good ideas come from.
A couple of years back my work tasked me with coming up with a strategy to make our organisation more innovative — how could we start coming up with new ideas to tackle protracted problems instead of just doing what we knew how to do over and over.
So I set off to start learning about different theories of where good ideas and innovations come from.

I expected to find wildly varying theories, assumptions and disagreements on the topic.

Instead I was pretty shocked to learn that almost everything I read said the same thing
All theories basically come down to 5 steps — depending on who authored them they might be framed differently, but essentially they all say the same thing.
Step 1: Be curious.

Read. Watch TV. Research. Have conversations. Play sport. Watch a dog. Gather as much information as you can about everything that you can. The broader your interests the better.
Step 2: Digest and discuss

Think about what you know, and share what you know with as many other folk as you can. Imagine that everyone is walking around with half an idea and you might be in possession of the other half. Try and fit things together.
Step 3: Go about your life.

The idea will come when it’s good and ready, and, most likely, while you’re busy relaxing. People talk about coming up with their best ideas in the shower or on walks because that’s when your brain has the space to go over all that info you collected.
Step 4: the aha moment

It’s then when you’re fully relaxed and not thinking about it that the idea will come to you. It’s the lightbulb moment we’ve all been told about, but it doesn’t happen late at night at our desks. It happens in the bathtub.
Step 5: Make the idea a reality

Go and do the thing! This part doesn’t really need explaining — just do it.
The thing that struck me about all of this the most was Step 2. It’s why some of the biggest steps forward in science and philosophy happened alongside the emergence of coffee houses: because chance favours the connected mind.
Jan Gehl is an architect and urban planner known for pioneering the idea of people-first cities. But when he graduated in the 1960s he, like his peers, thought cities should be designed around cars. What changed his mind? Talking to his wife.
She was a psychologist and so were all of her friends. So whenever he would chat about his work they ask questions and share thoughts about their area of expertise: people.
Soon enough Gehl went back to school to learn about the psychology of housing and think about how he could combine his understanding of how people live with his knowledge of how we design cities.

The results? Transformations like this one: Image
All of this to say that our best ideas will come from talking to people with a different focus to ours. From sharing what we know, asking questions, and then seeing what happens. The potential is massive, beautiful and serendipitous.
Want to learn more about where good ideas come from? This is a good place to start:

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More from @SarahJ_Berry

23 Feb
A thread on cars and fear.

Earlier this week, I was walking on a quiet back-street and enjoying the sunshine. On the pavement across from me was a dad with his three children doing the exact same thing.
The youngest of his children was out of his stroller, toddling alongside it and holding on to its side. The middle child was riding one of those plastic ride-on cars you push along with your feet and LOVING it. The eldest was asking questions and chatting with his dad.
The middle child, whilst having a great time, wasn't quite keeping up with the pack. So dad stopped and called back to him telling him to speed up.

But when he turned around, his youngest child had let go of the stroller and run off straight towards an intersection.
Read 18 tweets
10 Feb
This is going to be a controversial one, but stick with me here if you can: I'm worried the active travel community might have a fat-phobia problem.
Full disclosure: I'm fat, or obese if we go by the BMI measure, and I have never once faced any hostility or criticism about that from anyone in the movement. It's not personal.
But I have seen things that are a lot more subtle than that. Things that when I've heard them or read them have given me that anxious twinge in my stomach that make me feel like I might be being judged.
Read 16 tweets
10 Feb
The thing about low traffic neighbourhoods is if they're making an area more annoying to drive in then they're probably working.

Soon residents will start asking "is taking the car the best option for this journey?" and finding most of the time, the answer is no.
Again and again I'm reminded of that saying "when you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression."

Drivers are so used to interventions being aimed at making their journeys easier that the moment a different road user becomes the focus, they can't cope.
Is Hackney as hellish to drive in as most streets in London are to walk and cycle in? Of course not.

But for drivers, slight delays feel like hell. For many cyclists and pedestrians, a hellish journey is one you feel like you might not survive.
Read 5 tweets
9 Feb
If you want to help other women get on their bikes and discover the joy and freedom that cycling brings, and you fit into the categories listed below, then please consider joining @JoyridersLondon…
@JoyridersLondon Seeing different kinds of women on bikes -- sporty women, pregnant women, anxious women, fat women, awkward women, uncoordinated women, women in dresses, women of colour, women with disabilities, mums, and everything in between -- helped me work up the bravery to give it a go.
@JoyridersLondon Basically what I'm saying is this: don't look at this website and think: i'm probably not what they're looking for, I'm not really a cyclist.

You. Are. Exactly. Who. We're. Looking. For.
Read 4 tweets
7 Feb
Just a year ago I was someone who resented cyclists in London. I never imagined that I could ever be one of them.

Now, city cycling is one of the best parts of my life.

Here’s what helped me change my mind:
Seeing people like me cycle joyfully made a huge difference.

That included young women, anxious women, women on upright bikes, women with fruit and veg, or even better — a new houseplant — in their basket, people wearing skirts or dresses.

Representation matters.
But it wasn’t just seeing people like me. It was also seeing people who I thought were even less likely to cycle than me.

Pregnant women, elderly people, small children.

“If cycling was really as dangerous as I think it is, they wouldn’t be doing it” is what I thought.
Read 19 tweets
5 Feb
Colin is so pure we do not deserve him #itsasin
OH NO #itsasin
Jesus I was not prepared for that even in the slightest nothing bad can happen to Colin I couldn’t bare it
Read 4 tweets

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