Digging underground for inspiration

 Dave Birss , writer, speaker, advisor

23 JULY 2019

In this episode of the ‘Inspire Me!’ series, I headed into the tunnels of the London Underground to see what I could find. I chose the electronic information¬†screens. And – as usual – I used them to get three principles which might just spark some new ideas.

There are three previous episodes in this series. If you fancy more of this stuff, you can find them in this playlist.

Underneath the video is a full transcript of the film with all my weird phrasing perfectly intact. I’d much prefer it if you watched the video instead!


Hi! I’m Dave Birss and today we’re going to try to find some inspiration on the way to a meeting.

And there goes my bus.

So this ‘Inspire Me’ series is all about finding inspiration in everyday things around about us. I’ve got a meeting that I’m going to today. I need to take the underground to get there. So I’m going to see what we can find in the underground that we’ll be able to learn from. So here we go. Let’s see what we can find.

The thing I chose from the underground to look at is the live screens that you get above your heads. They tell you when the next train is coming. I think they’re wonderful. So let’s see three principles we can learn from those.



The first principles I think we can learn is understand your audience at a very specific moment. So the people on the train platform, what they want to know at that time is “When is the next train coming and do I have enough time to play another round of Candy Crush?” What are the opportunities for you if you understand the precise moment that your audience is going to be interacting with whatever it is that you’re doing?



The next principle is share your data. Companies tend to try and hold onto their data. They think it’s got some kind of incredible value. But what are the opportunities in sharing your data? I mean for Transport for London, who run the London Underground, they share all of this live information data. And it means that even companies like Google and CityMapper can take this data and use it to be far more precise in what they’re doing. That opens up opportunities for everyone. What can you do that will open up opportunities by sharing what you’ve got?



And the last principle is use precise numbers. These train information boards don’t say a train be here in a few minutes. They say a train will be here in three minutes. And studies have been done – Behavioral Economics kind of things – so that if you’re trying to get people to reuse their towels in a hotel room, if you say “most people in this hotel room recycle their towels” it’s not as effective as saying “seventy eight point three percent of people who stayed in this room reused their towels”. So what are the opportunities for you to be very precise with numbers?

So that’s our inspiration for today. If you find any of this useful then please like, subscribe, comment, share. Do all of the usual good youtubey stuff.

That’s everything from me. So in the meantime. Big love to your beautiful brain!