“Thinging” is the New Thing

Thinging

When it comes to experiences, it’s not about the thing as it is more about what you do with the thing. An experience is in the action or “Ing” of a thing. A ball is a thing, yet ball balancing is doing. Any time you do something, you are in essence, experiencing. For a business, staging the action of a thing can be of greater value than merely the selling of the thing.

This trend, which the American Lifestyle Report identified and the Washington Post reported, indicates that consumers are shifting from the acquisition of things to seeking more experiences. People are doing more than buying more. Consumers are moving from the tangible goods to intangible experiences. With this shift comes greater value to the staging of experiences.

So, before you create your customer experience, stop and consider what you want your customer to do. What are you “Thinging” for your customers to experience and how are you driving value from this experience?

The New Economic Value Equation is this “Ing > Thing”

KMD

Reshaping Healthcare

Berry Tree

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.

KMD

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

Staging A Remote Experience

Okay, so I completed my Experience Economy Certification this past September with James H. Gilmore & B. Joseph Pine II. Extremely intense event and education. And like most events I attend, I created some Visual Translations  (my version of sketchnotes) to help keep all the big ideas.

My grandmother and my mother always told me to give when I could, so, as part of my appreciation for my mentors and the companionship of my fellow classmates, I sent out my series of 6 thINKing Canvas to each of them as a reminder and a thank you.

What I thought was a simple gesture of friendship  returned an even greater gift from my friend Dennis Moseley-Williams. An Inspiring Video.

What a great feeling to get in return for a simple gesture. This is how experiences are staged.

Thanks Dennis!

P.S. Here are the boards the canvas from our certification class that were distributed. One for the five days of training and one recap.

DAY 1:

TEEC Day 1 sm

DAY 2:

TEEC Day 2 sm

DAY 3:

TEEC Day 3 sm

DAY 4:

TEEC Day 4 sm

DAY 5:

TEEC Day 5 sm

RECAP:

TEEC Highlight sm

thinkAbout 2015

A visual recap of thinkAbout 2015 in Atlanta on the idea of “Ing the Thing” Adding action to a thing to begin thinking about the experience.

The “Regiception” – Reception and Registration Experience. (note this year’s joke is in the upper left. In addition of the morning tour to Chick-fil-A’s headquarters and the recipient of this year’s EXPY award.

thinkAbout 2015 01

Day 1 – Touring

thinkAbout 2015 02

Day 2 – Thinking about Ing the Thing

thinkAbout 2015 03

A special thanks to our after event excursion to The Prime Family of Business Office and congratulations to Jolene for receiving the EMA award.

SPARK Your Imagination

There’s a growing trend in America. A trend where the world of art and artists are collaborating with businesses and business leaders to generate a richer offering as well as a new perspective on creating healthier and stronger businesses. There is no better avenue for this thinking in St. Louis than the SPARK Conference hosted by COCAbiz at COCA.

I was honored to be able to perform the graphic recording of the event, for Sharon Price John’s morning presentation and for the evening’s Keynote address by John Maeda. Below is the large-scale graphic recording of the full day event of SPARK at COCA.

COCAbiz SPARK 2015 sm

Please check out the wonderful services and programming that COCAbiz has to offer by contacting Steve Knight at COCAbiz. Just follow the link and get creative with business solutions.

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

 

 

Ask The Right Question(s)

Summertime seems to always be a busy one for recording, Strategy Ideation sessions and conferences to attend. My time is always busy with clients and outside activities that I must be selective with which events to attend. I choose to attend events which bolster more of the creative development on idea generation and or strategy in lieu of general tactical or “How-to-Do” conferences. Many tactical or skills based events eventually are highlighted through social media, so one must pick their best use of time and funds.

It was one of these selective events that reignited some old concepts that we allow to get buried as we continuously update our knowledge base. At the event, like most, there were many speakers, workshops and keynote presenters, but all took a back seat to one individual that sparked my fascination and enforced why I do what I do.

Sitting in the back of one of the concurrent sessions was a small boy coloring with some markers. I don’t know why I was fascinated by what he was doing, maybe it was the fact that during all the information and the banter between presenter and audience I was intrigued that he ignored everyone and just focused on what he was interested in.

As the session wound down, I looked over the boy’s shoulder to see what was so captivating. It was nothing but a coloring book that he had colored with some artistic expression. He then looked up at me and smiled. It was the next few words that he spoke that brought my mind to a laser focus.

With an innocent smile he spoke, “Why are you here?” he asked. His question echoed in my head.

Why was I here I thought. I smiled back and replied, “Because I want to learn more and improve myself.”

“Why?” he replied.

“So I can be better at my job.”

“Why?” he repeated.

Playing along with this popular children’s line of questioning I replied, “To help people.”

Once more he uttered the question, “Why?”

By now most adults would simply smile and move along politely, but this simple line of questioning was making me reflect on my purpose, why I choose to do the things I do and to learn what I choose to learn. His innocent question was not so innocent for me. Did he really want to know? probably not, but it made me want to understand myself better. I finally replied, “because people sometimes need help getting what they want.”

“What do they want?” he asked.

Interested in how he would respond, I fired back a single answer. “Change.”

I expected the response of the repeating question, what I didn’t anticipate was the added response. “Why do they need change? Don’t they have enough?”

I realize he may have misunderstood my term, but somehow his reply was right on the money. “Why do they need change?” This simple question touches at the very core for a company’s growth strategy. In addition, asking about how much change do they need is as important as well.  If a child can ask these types of questions then why don’t more executives ask them of themselves. I realize that it is part of why I am asked to help them, but it should also be part of how they help themselves.

If you wish to understand change and gather new ideas, starting using simple questions like ‘why’ repeatedly as your bait to uncover the core reasons. “Why not!”

Fishing 4 Ideas