Keep the Book “Look” a Secret

One of my mentors, James Gilmore, just completed and sent for printing his latest book called “Look” on observation skills. I think this will be a great tool for designers and planners. Can’t wait to get my first copy.

Look Gilmore sm

So keep it a secret. It becomes available on Amazon in August 2016. Here’s where to get it. 

Age of the Personal Brand

I have contemplated an idea that is growing larger. The idea of having a personal brand. And as with any brand, comes the brand mark or logo.  So my idea is this; are we truly returning to pictographic or iconographic society?

Evidence would argue that we are. More and more information in our everyday life is being identified by graphic representation and not the written word. Case in point; look to your desktop or mobile device. Very few icons include the use of text. In some cases, applications on mobile devices and desktops are using more icons and graphics to convey processes and functions. One of the obvious reasons is universal use.

Look to another rise in our society, social media brings us the increasing use of emoticons. Graphic icons to replace a set of emotional terms or statements. Technology has brought us back to a digital hieroglyphic age. Everything is becoming represented by icons. If so, then can we create icons for ourselves?

I say it already is happening. From the use of initials to clever Social Media avatar icons, we are in the age of personal branding and with personal branding comes personal logos. To give you an example here are my initials; K.M.D. I have used these all through my art life and as part of my signature. So what happens when I evolve from text to icons? what does my personal brand logo become?

KMD Brand Logo 500

A stylized expression of my initials transformed into a personal brand logo. A logo that can be used in social media as well as to identify ownership of things that belong to me.

But why do we need such icons for ourselves? In an age of graphics and speed, a personal logo does for a person what  a logo mark does for companies, creates a unique symbol that is connected to an individual who may share a name with many others. It is a way to stand out and be recognized.

My prediction is that we are about to see the boom of the personal logo trend. In our world of billions of online citizens, personal logos create that need to be unique or at least be seen as being unique. Soon small garage and bedroom businesses will appear who specialize in creating personal logos and human brands. Who knows, maybe brand consultants will help with couples wishing to join brands or couples needing to create new personal brands due to separation or loss. We have become an industry of we/me.

Is it right? Should we move further back into pictographic and iconographic languages? Maybe not, yet when has that ever stopped a generation or society from following a trend because of popularity or technologic need?

So, you be you and I’ll be me and my mark will be my proof of existence.

Alcoholism Rises to 500%

Drink UpThis may soon be the headline we read in the not too far future.

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.

Why Change is Hard

In the Jar

There is an old quote I heard many years ago that goes something like this;

“You can’t read the label from inside the jar.”

Each time I’m asked about strategic ideation or innovation labs and why I believe them to be such a powerful tools for clients, businesses and organizations I always remember the quote. Trying to find a solution or discover new opportunities when you are so close to the situation or the problem is usually highly improbable. You see, it’s very hard to challenge yourself with questions or perceptions that drive new discoveries. The reason is simply, we naturally avoid asking ourselves questions we don’t know the answers to.

In many cases, to discover fresh ideas, solve problems or uncover new opportunities, it requires someone outside your jar to challenge with questions, ideas or observations that may be beyond your normal sight lines or focus. Strategic ideation or innovation labs conducted by outside resources can assist with this type of challenging thinking, a type of thinking process that becomes a provocateur to historic patterns and beliefs.

So, if you trying to “think outside the box”, change the paradigm or have a desire to change course direction, then my suggestion to you is to seek out an outside specialist to help you to see what is written the other side of the label. When you can do that, then you can begin to discover the opportunities and solutions unseen before.

As Winnie the Pooh always says “Think Think Think” and see how.

KMD

Flow of the Experience

Many speak on the topic of experiences. This creates many interpretations of how experiences are defined. What I have come to notice is how very few speak about broader picture of experiences. The flow as you may say.

Experiences are viewed generally as an event or a moment in time. In many cases this is a true statement, however, there is a larger view of an experience that most overlook. The view of the experiential flow.

Every event or experience in one’s life rarely just happens spontaneously and then is gone. No, a well staged experience requires careful planning and structure. It is this structure that helps properly stage an experience and ensure it produces the desired effect and lasting memory.

What does this structure look like? It is a combination of time and spacial elements aligned in a unique sequence.

E Flow sm

The dominate time factors are Before, During and After an event or experience. The deeper aspects are action zones such as Enticing, Entering, Existing, Engaging, Exiting and Extending. Finally, there are the spacial aspects such as the Outer world which exist in the Before and After time factors, the Environment which has the experience and finally, the Point-Of-Experience where the target experience is staged.

All of these elements of time and space comprise the staging of an experience, not merely just the Point-Of-Experience or the Experience. To stage a successful experience, an experience must be orchestrated well before the experiential moment to create desire to enter and then afterwards to ensure the memory created is strong enough to create more wish to return.

The experiential flow should never be seen as a single instance. The Extending actions should always lead back to the Enticing to ensure repeat visits.

So, the next time you hear someone speak about an experience, be aware if they speak of the entirety or the instance, because a well staged experience is so much more the experiential moment most focus on.

If you want to hear more, please contact me via email.

 

The Mobius Method: Experience Event Design

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.

2010130132848_escher-mobius_strip

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

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

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

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.

Entering

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

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

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.

Extending

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.

Ownership

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.

mobius strip 1

Here is a Visual Strategy tool to help when planning.

image