I had a wonderful opportunity to capture the ideas and conversations of a growing movement in the educational world. SEL (Social Emotional Learning) is an empathetic approach to learning and is seeing a growing following. Here’s a look at the thinking of SEL.
When mapping out cause and effect of any new development or change, it maybe helpful to visually map out how that new development or change will affect other conditions.
In the example of the title headline, imagine as more and more autonomous self-driving cars or accessible to the public some responses may not be as positive as expected. With self-driving cars, occupants are no longer responsible for their condition behind the wheel. Not being responsible for driving allows people the opportunity to indulge in excess.
Yes bartender, I’ll have another, I’m not driving.
In this example, more autonomous cars could bring about a dramatic increase in public drinking and alcoholism. After all, we’re human.
Autonomous cars and drinking maybe a dramatic example that may never unfold, but then again, it does have the possibility. Look at how companies approach developmental change within an organization. What maybe a small change from the top will ripple down may have unseen consequences if not mapped out. What about dramatic change such as rebranding, environmental design, digital adaptation or even evolving staff culture?
For companies attempting to evolve and stay profitable, not seeing how change will unfold could be as dangerous as not changing at all. This is why visual thinking and graphic facilitation are such a powerful tools in Organizational Change or new product development.
See the possible outcomes and pitfalls before you implement change.
My grandmother was a simple woman and always had a unique way of viewing and explaining the world to me. Her simple upbringing always seemed to add clarity to her storytelling lessons which always helped me to better understand life, people and how things work.
The reason I bring this up is because while chatting with someone in Healthcare about the challenges of changing how people think about what healthcare should or could be, I was reminded of one of her stories about being something you’re not or trying to be different from your nature.
“Take the berry tree. ” She would whisper as if a great secret was being shared. “Its nature is to be a berry tree. No matter how you trim, cut or tie down its limbs to look like a berry bush, its nature is to be a tree. Its trunk will grow out as it was intended to do in order to support the long limbs where the berries should hang. But it will never be a berry bush. No matter how hard you try.”
Then she smiled and added, “The more you reshape it the less fruit you gather. So, if you want a berry bush, than it’s wiser to plant a different kind of seed.”
As I watch how the Healthcare industry is trying to change and reshape itself, I reflect on that story of the berry tree. If Healthcare needs to be different, then maybe it’s wiser to create something new, than it is to reshape that which it was intended to be. Maybe it’s time to grow from different seeds.
Change can be very hard to do from the inside. My advice is always to seek help from someone from the outside to get a fresh and different perspective to grow a new idea. Because thinking outside the box is just that, it’s the thinking from outside the box.
First, what is Möbius? Möbius is a surface with only one side and only one boundary. A good example of this is M.C. Escher’s “Ants on a Möbius Strip” seen below.
How does this relate to Experience Event Design? The concept must be an endless and continuous movement.
Having had the pleasure to aid in many event planning sessions over the course of my lifetime which many were repeating, I realized early on that most plans only focus on a moment in time combined with a single characterized theming principle. Most events lacked any real purpose other than to host of notoriety, make money or to celebrate an occasion. But what if the event could be much more and possibly without any more effort or possibly even less?
There had to be some method that increased the impact and experience of any given event. An event had to be planned far beyond the constraints of the event moment itself. It had to flow with consistency, purpose, theme and direction. It was more than a single event disconnected from any other. It could be like a Möbius strip, seemingly without beginning or end.
Before I explain any further, let me share that this post will cover four key issues around an experience event; Theatre, Experiences, Stages of Experience, and Ownership.
Theatre is defined so well by Peter Brook’s quote: “I can take any empty space and call it a stage. A man walks across that empty stage whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.”
Every event you create, host or involved with is a production of theatre. You have your performers and your audience. You follow a script and each person has their role. Never treat it any less if you strive to make it a great experience, anything less is merely a service valued on price.
To be in the mindset of theatre one must focus on the Why and How and not the What. Service mindsets focuses solely on what work is performed; an experience mindset focuses on how the what is performed. Before you can even think of focusing on how the whats will be performed you must understand why you even doing it and for who, because the event is never for the performers, rather for the audience. So take the advice of Simon Sineck and “Start with Why”, then focus on the Who before you focus on the How and What.
When it comes to event experiences its important the theme or motif of the event should not be the focus of the planner, rather how the theme is expressed through the event experience.
Experiences exist in four realms and are anchored across two axises by the level of involvement being passive or active and the axis of engagement from absorption to immersion. These axises create four experience realms of Entertainment (passive/absorb), Educational (active/absorb), Escapist (active/immerse) and Esthetic (passive/immerse). Knowing which of the four your event should be structure upon is important. More important is developing with all four in mind creating a sweet spot of all four realms.
Is not to say that over the span of the event experience the type of experience can shift more in favor of one or more realms. A tool for this is to divide the span of the event into five distinct stages and use the experience grid with percentage of a 100 points per stage. This will help focus on the type of content and performances needed to stage the experience.
Stages of Experience
With all curated experiences, there are identifiable stages along the course of the experience. Typically there are five unique stages; Attracting, Entering, During, Exiting and Extending. My view, at each stage a planner should use the theme grid percentage tool to keep the overall flow on track to stage the complete experience theme.
Attracting happens before your audience ever arrives to the event or walks on to the premises hosting the event. Attracting is the time when you are creating interest in the vent. Invitations to a wedding, advertising for shows or even things shared on social media of previous experiences. Guaranteed, you may not be able to control social media and I never believe anyone can, yet you can add content based upon the four realms of experience to this stream to help in attracting and beginning telling the story of the event experience. It is the stage where expectations are established.
The Entering stage is the transitional stage or liminal zone to the event experience. At this stage, the audience is moving from the outside world into the space hosting the event. Cues need to support the expectations created during the attracting stage. Which of the realms of experience should be the focus during this transition? Which support and enhance the transition best?
A simple example of using the Esthetic Experience (passive/immerse) in the Entering stage could be as your audience or attendees arrive the registration/ticket area is staged as an extension of the overall event. If the event is focused on music, than maybe the space is walled with blank oversized music sheets used as messaging boards, agendas or event highlights. Maybe there are sitting areas with instruments so visitors can huddle and play music while waiting.
During is the event itself. It is the action and performances occurring as the main activities. This stage of the experience holds the most weight of the experience. When using the Experience Realm focus on staging on the sweet spot of the grid, the center where all four realms come into play. That is to say, you can not focus on one or more types of experiences at various times or overall, just be aware that “During” is the stage to create the greatest impression and experience of the event.
Exiting is another transitional or liminal zone. The stage is useful in building memories of the event experience. the audience is transitioning from the experience(s) you have created back into the everyday world. You do not want them to transition abruptly or without reinforcing their experience. Look to the four realms once more, what type of exiting experience will enhance their overall experience as well as create a positive memory as the exit? Could the exiting space be gift bags arranged on a display that highlights the events activities or some area for reflection before departing? Whatever it maybe, it needs to be less that main experience, but still extend from the experiences already engaged in.
Okay, everyone is gone, the space is cleared of the previous event it’s over right? No! Extending the experience is the critical piece of the memory around the experience. Having something to extend beyond the experience to help remind your audience of their time spent, since time spent with you or your experience is what is at stake.
Take a ballpark ticket stub. This is a natural extending element of the experience. Each time you see that ticket it brings up the memory of the experience. It is a piece of memorabilia or token of your time spent. Crete a unique piece of memorabilia that your audience can take with them or receive later to remind them of their time with you or your event.
So I shared a lot on experiences, staging of experience, stages of experiences and even the realms of types of experiences, but the real challenge to planning is knowing who owns these experiences? Do you the stager/planner, the performers who interacted with the audience or the audience members who the event was created for? In reality everyone involved, because experiences are unique to each person and are held internally. Each person experiences differently. All a planner can do is plan with a purpose, stage with direction and reinforce with strong performers, a good script and the right props.
Back to the Möbius Method
So why is it called the Möbius Method? Because all experiences flow into the next and each staged experience moves from internally curated by the planner,stager to externally experienced by those in the audience or getting involved. Like the Möbius strip which rotates and twist so it becomes endless and transitions from being internally to externally facing and back again, so to is the role of the event experience planner.
Before you close out this post, take a moment to reflect, not on the events you stage, rather on how you stage your interaction with clients. These too are events and follow the same rules of theatre that your offering does. How are you leading your clients through the stages of experiences and which types of experiences are you using at the various stages.
Interacting with each client and moving from one client to the next is your Möbius Strip of Business, stage it well because you are creating memories on the time your clients spend with you.
Here is a Visual Strategy tool to help when planning.
There is an epidemic facing our business world. The symptoms may go undetected and has spread like wildfire in a drought. This type of epidemic can be so destructive that it actually destroys businesses from at the very core and no one sees it coming, especially when its company-wide.
This condition spreads through daily activities, mutual conversation and even electronically communications undetected. There is no way to spot once its too late to protect yourself or others.
No, I am not talking about a air-borne disease or some contagious virus. No, I’m talking about the loss of information and key ideas created and then lost forever. I am talking about the inability of groups to capture and share ideas and goals effectively. There is a method of inoculation and eventual cure to this epidemic…
Okay, so it sounds like a commercial right. True, but in reality, it is a statement of support. When an organization creates ideas from interaction of co-workers, capturing these ideas so that they are documented as well as shared aids in the propagation of these ideas. One of the most powerful tools is graphic recording, capturing ideas in both written and graphical documentation so that the information can be reflected upon and shared.
Graphic recording does not always have to be done larger than life on huge sheets of paper on the walls, no, you can scale down to sketchbooks or even small notebooks. Whatever the size you choose to use, make sure you share. When you share ideas captured, you inoculate against the epidemic of forgetfulness, the killer of great ideas.
So to all those who meet, share, present, communicate, doodle on napkins, capture these ideas and document them to share. You never know who may see them and build on the idea to make them real.
Always remember, make intangible ideas tangible so others may SEE!
If you ever had been around a small child, the word “Why” can become the most frustrating word you’ll ever encounter right after “No”. Every answer you give is quickly challenge with another “Why” until you have no more answers and you snap with the default answer of “Because!” But before you snap, remember to keep telling yourself that this is a critical process in the development of that child. Being inquisitive is how we all learn and grow intellectually.
So what happened to us later in life? Why do we stop asking? What is it that made us avoid challenging the status quo? Maybe it’s because we still hear the echo of ‘why’ or maybe we are afraid to remind ourselves of three words that would spark our quest for answers; “I Don’t Know”. The technique of asking why five times to get to the root of an issue was originally developed by Sakichi Toyoda and was used within the Toyota Motor Corporation during the evolution of its manufacturing methodologies. It is a critical component of problem-solving training, delivered as part of the induction into the Toyota Production System. The 5 Whys method, as expressed by Sakichi Toyoda, was “the basis of Toyota’s scientific approach . . . by repeating why five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear.”
Problem solving may have been the original application, yet this same technique can also be adapted to an earlier stage of development of an idea or perceived innovation. Asking the 5 Whys at the beginning of a project can reveal many aspects that may be overlooked. Like a small child asking why, it is important to understand the idea’s purpose. Finding its purpose, will help determine the viability and adaptability of the idea. Below, is a graphic I use to help determine my continuation of an idea. Start with “Why do it?” Walk around the circle and ask yourself each question as it relates to your idea or situation. If at any time, you do not have a strong and clear answer to any one of the 5 whys around the circle, then, as you get back to the beginning, ask yourself the first one again. There are two steps you can take from here; the first is to uncover the answers to each question or move away from the idea (for now). Record the idea and store it until all the answers can be found.
I have come to believe and trust this method when developing an idea before investing time and resources. Too many times I committed to a project that either served no greater value to the existing condition or would never be accepted as a new solution. I dedicated many hours and resources keeping a project moving simply because I was blind to the answers I would have discover had I only simply asked these five whys.
So, before you act on an idea and follow the credo of “Fail Fast” on the deliverable, ask yourself why, why, why, why, why and never just answer “Because.”
Remember this… “To Determine Success one must Measure against one’s Purpose.”