Today’s Tubespiration Example: Harry Beck

The London Underground map is an icon of the underground system, it has also become an icon of ‘London’ and is also recognised as an icon of outstanding design.

So, if you come up with the origins of this design, it seems obvious that everyone would recognise your genius, say ‘Yes’ or even roll out a red carpet for you.

The world of creativity and innovation tells a different story.

When Harry Beck first presented his idea of a schematic presentation as a map for the Underground system in 1931 it rejected. It was according to Harry’ account, seen as ‘too revolutionary’. He noted: “My Underground map was handed back to me, and that, it seemed, was to be the end of it.’

Although disappointed by the rejection, Harry tried again. “About a year later I had another look at the drawing, and decided, without much hope, to try again. This time Mr Patmore of the Publicity Department sent for me…and greeted me with the words, “You’d better sit down: I’m going to give you a shock. We’re going to print it. Thus it was, and only, as I believe, through my pertinacity, that the London Underground diagram was born.”

Harry Beck’s story reflects the tales of most innovators.

If at first you don’t succeed – which is more likely to be the case – try, try and try again.

Look back on any ideas you have had rejected:

• What ways can you, like Harry Beck, use your pertinacity, to try again?
• What can you learn from your previous rejections?
• What does the idea mean to you?
• Why is it important you succeed with your idea?








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