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.

 

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:

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DAY 2:

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DAY 3:

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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

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

The Edge of Change

The world we live in is a funny place. Conversations, styles and even perceived needs are cyclical. What is old is new and new, well, that’s so this morning. Every thing changes. Everything. Those things, people, businesses that don’t, well, that’s so in the past. Change is the only constant they say and I find it to be true. Change up, change back, change around, change out, change into, etc… We have so many perceptions of change that the adaptations seem endless.

Change comes in various sizes and increments. Some changes are dramatic while others are subtle. No matter what, change happens to us all each day. The real goal is to try to guide change as best we can, because change never happens as we expect. It always has hidden surprises or consequences.

But what is change? When does something or someone change? I guess that answer lies in the eye of the observer. Only those closely watching can see the change happening, but for most, we see the event after the change. But what if you could plan change in some fashion. This I have asked for some time and here is what I have created.

Based on the idea that yesterday and today are unchangeable, if you avoid any theoretical ideas of time travel, that only leaves the future for change. And, if change only happens in the future, than you can guide the outcome given you can determine all the factors affected by change. And so, here is my model for change.

Change Deltasm

This is my Delta model for change. Even if you stand at the very edge, change will occur. Time always moves forward and you must move with it. But you can decide how you want the change to happen and what you want the change to create once you understand why you want or need the change to happen.

As the model indicates, change should be an improvement and performed of a duration of time through some given process. Also, you must determine any and all pitfalls and obstacles that may hinder you crossing the gap of change.

So the steps:

  1. Why is there a need for change? “Why”
  2. How will this change occur? “How”
  3. Who can help you achieve this change? “Who”
  4. What improvement will change create? “What”
  5. How long will the change take? “When”
  6. And where do you want to be when the change is complete? “Where”

Map the change before you act. Take you intangible idea and make it a tangible plan.

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.

Not All Customer Experiences Are True Experiences

As the old adage goes, “All ponies are horses, but not all horses are ponies.” This is the same for ‘Customer Experiences.’ Not all customer experiences are truly an experience that creates economic value. Making the distinction between an Experience and a customer experience can be confusing if you assume both are the same. Let me make it simple, they’re not. Most customer experiences are merely good or great customer service labeled with an over used buzzword. Calling customer service a customer experience does not elevate it to a true experience.

The term “Customer experience” has become the catchall phrase for anything above an expected customer relationship performance by a provider. Consumers expect good, if not, great customer service, but it’s not unique enough to be called a Customer Experience. If a retailer adds extras like a coffee station or creates a good aesthetic environment through sound and trimmings to entice customers to buy, this does not guarantee that have created, or more precisely, staged an experience. All that has been accomplished is an improvement to the environment of a service or goods provider. There is no real economic value created from the experience itself only the application of dressing to increase sales.

How can you determine if your ‘Customer Experience’ is actually a true experience or packaging for promoting sales? Look at it this way; an experience is an offering where-as the consumer is willing to pay for the time spent and not the goods or services purchased. An experience is focused on creating memories and not selling things. This is not to say that an experience does not provide goods or services as part of an offering, only that it is not the focus of the offering.

Simple rule of thumb; if the focus of your offering is simply on the selling of goods or services provided and not the time spent interacting with the customer, than you are, by definition, in the Goods or Service business creating only good or great customer service to sell stuff and not a true Experience stager helping to create memories for consumers.

There is greater value in memories than in merchandise.

To learn more about the value of Experiences read; Science Daily’s:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090207150518.htm, Fast Company’s post: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3043858/world-changing-ideas/the-science-of-why-you-should-spend-your-money-on-experiences-not-thing or, I would suggest reading B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore’s book“The Experience Economy” Update version.

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.

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