Truck Stopping Distances

See what you think

How do you come up with new and different ideas?

This is a question I’m often asked. It can be very easy to get stuck in a rut, creating different versions of the same idea. But if you want the output of the creative process to be different, it can help to make the inputs different.

Go somewhere else, anywhere else, than where you normally do, to help spark an idea. In this example, I went to Quora.

The challenge was to come up with content that truckers would engage with. Now, I wasn’t sure that truckers would be particularly active on Quora, but there they were. And there was one question on there that got much more engagement than the others. And within that, one answer that generated the most reactions.

The question was ‘Truck drivers, what do you wish other drivers knew about driving a truck?’ And the answer was ‘You really don’t realise how long it takes us to stop!’ So we wanted to see if we could show how much people don’t understand this important (and resonant) point.

As Chip and Dan Heath explain in their book, Made to Stick, sometimes if you don’t get people to state what they think the answer will be before they find out, they will often post-rationalise it and say ‘Oh yeah, that’s what I thought’.

However, if you get them to commit up front and say ‘here’s what I think the answer is’, and if the real answer is considerably different, this can present the knowledge gap and help create an element of surprise.

In this example, we present the audience with information about the truck, the speed it’s driving, and the road conditions (dry or wet). And we ask them to pull the slider to see where they think the truck would stop if it had to brake suddenly.

There were already lots of diagrams available on truck stopping distances, but we wanted to show the truck on an actual road, going past all the cars – before it comes to a stop. This helps make it more concrete, relatable and impactful.

I’ve demonstrated this content to people in workshops, and they’re often surprised by the result.

Want to create better content?

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