Sketchnoting Food Tours

On a trip to Miami for a conference, I had the great pleasure of participating in a wonderful experience. A large group of attendees were presented with the opportunity to take a walking tour of some of Miami’s authentic Cuban restaurants. Being the type of person who loves to experience great food and culture, I was game.

What I soon discovered was that our tour guide was more than just a guide, she was a passionate lover of the culinary world. She was not just giving us a tour but guiding us along a culinary experience unlike any other I have ever had. Up and down side streets to small little niche shops and restaurants we explored and discovered some of the most interesting people and culinary pleasures.

What made this a true experience was the passion Lisa from Miami Culinary Tours had about her world. She wanted each guest she lead to understand, experience and appreciate the culture, food and heritage behind the restaurant scene in Miami. She created moments of memories and embraced what it meant to stage experiences. With only a small amplified speaker and the streets of Miami, Lisa used all these locations as the stages for the experiences or food exploration. And the “Ing the Thing” was not eating, but devouring a culture through its food and drink, consume the Cuban heritage and digest the knowledge she shared.

Bravo!

food tour

What is the Experience

“We have a great customer experience.”

Okay, I know we all have heard this response from a lot of companies expressing what makes them different than the competition. Maybe we even caught ourselves say it. The phrase ‘A Great Customer Experience’ has become the hot buzzword response statement of the year. Yet, each time I hear this I find myself wondering and wanting to ask this question…

“What is the experience you’re staging for your customer that is so great?”

Let me be clear about one thing, a true experience is not an enhancement of services to support an offering, rather, the experience is the offering which is supported by goods and services. If the experience is the offering, than what type of customer experience are you staging?

Pine and Gilmore identified two dimensions of an experience. The first dimension is that of customer or guest participation. At one of the spectrum lies passive participation and at the other, active participation.

The second dimension of an experience is the type of connection or environmental relationship that connects the customer to the event or performance. At one end of this spectrum lies absorption, viewing from a distance. At the other lies immersion, becoming physically part of the experience itself.

Combining these two aspects helps to define the four primary types of experiences customers can partake of. In the upper left lies the passive absorption of Entertainment such as listening to music, watching a performance or even reading for pleasure. In the upper right lies the active absorption of Educational Experiences. To the lower right lies the active immersion of Escapist Experiences where customers are actively involved. In the final quadrant to the lower left lies the experience of the Esthetic such as viewing artwork in a gallery or museum.

Combinations of any two of these experience realms can create six additional blended experiences. The real differentiator for a great customer experience is the ability of hitting the sweet spot between all four realms into one blended experience like Walt Disney has achieved with the theme parks.

So, the next time you hear someone say they have a great customer experience, ask them what kind of experience(s) are they staging for their customers, because Disney never said he had a ‘Great Customer Experience’ only great experiences.

thinkAbout 2014

Are you one that believes that by creating an experience you provide greater value to customers, members or any type of visitor? You’re not alone. Each year somewhere across America a band of like-minded experiential thinkers gather with Joseph Pine and James Gilmore to put into practice the ideas and techniques shared in their book “The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage.”

Here are some of my Graphicnotes from the event held in Cincinnati in 2014. The group explored Persona development. I’m not speaking about Stereotyping, but raw persona development.

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Wow! What an incredible time with some of the best experiential thinkers you’ll ever meet. In 2015, the group heads to Atlanta to take on new experiences and apply more of the principles to enrich their thinking and their offerings.

If you’re interested about attending a thinkAbout, click on over to the official site: Strategic Horizons and read more about the events. The event is not open to the public, but I have a few alumni contacts that would be willing to share their membership with you.

See more Graphicnotes from thinkAbout 2013

I Believe… My Purpose

Stop me if you heard this one before…

“I have a great idea for a…” or “No one else is doing this. It would be a great business…”

Like you, I have heard many of these lines over the past years from people who were thinking of starting a business or expanding an existing offering. Over time I have come to realize that potentials are not about a great idea or a gap in opportunities, rather it’s about the reason it’s important to do. So, the best question I can ask of them is this…

What’s the purpose?

Hint; ‘Purpose’ speaks to people. “Human to Human”

As Simon Sinek states, “Start with Why”. I believe the ‘Why’ will help identify the ‘Who’ if clearly defined and then possibly the ‘How.’ What you provide to support that ‘Why’ (your purpose/cause) could become your offering.

Once you determine to create, expand or even redesign your offering, map it out visually to make it a tangible plan, then heed some important advice that was shared with me. Seek out an outside professional to help you see beyond your framework to ensure that your purpose is clear and important enough to others as well to sustain growth and success.

Be a Cause, not just because.

Crossing the Gap – Strategy

I realized the other day that I had not posted in a while, mostly due to the extensive amount of work I have had in these past months and because of a project that I started over 10 years ago has been reignited.

It’s this very program or process I want to post about. During the past 10 years, our economy has seen some major changes. Changes that have forced people to review how they come to market and what to offer. Unfortunately, this thinking is the same format as years gone by and is beginning to fail businesses as well as organizations. Competing on price and product mix is not winning the new business nor is it growing the current model. What needs to change is how we think about business.

Historically, a business ran on an apathetic model, the spreadsheet and numbers. The challenge was to have black ink in the revenue columns and red in the cost columns. Yet times have changed. More and more businesses are discovering it’s increasingly harder to run on only the spreadsheet alone. Something isn’t working. Why?

Is it because competition is growing, customers are getting smarter, technology is changing faster or demand is going online? Yes and no.

Over the past 20+ years, consumers have changed. They think differently, respond differently and make buying decisions differently. Okay the first two statements are true, but that last one may not be. How we make decisions hasn’t change as much as you may like or choose to use as an excuse. What has changed about decision-making is that we, as consumers, are pushing back on want and focusing more on our needs and something very unique in modern business, relationships.

Yes, relationships. Consumers want more than merely acquiring products, they want to have a relationship with providers. They want to connect with a purpose, not a buying cycle. Consumers are seeking out those who speak to them and present similar likes. The normal supply and demand process is dying as more and more consumers demand unique and personal customization. In essences, they are seeking a partner in their buying relationship who can connect with them as an individual, not as a number on a spreadsheet or a demographic type.

Spin the clock forward ten more years, a few years before the “Great Recession.” At this time, something else was changing. The progression of economic value was evolving to a whole new level. No longer was merely providing a service enough, consumers wanted to experience an offering. They wanted meaning and fulfillment emotionally. Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore called this change in the economy as “The Experience Economy.” They have authored numerous books on the subject so I will not attempt to plagiarize their research nor their views. I will say this, the Experience Economy is a dramatic shift for both consumer and provider alike. The spreadsheet model doesn’t stand up to this economic delivery model. Why? Because relationships can not be put into a column and measured by red or black ink.

It is this idea of the shift in the economic offering that put a few people to work on discovery what has changed on the business model and what works on this new environment. Months of research and development went in to discredit a traditional business plan model. Surprisingly, the business model still had its place in the business world, but not as the golden rule anymore.

Another model was needed. Not to replace the old, but to compliment the model in a way that mirrors how the economy and consumer has changed or evolved. A framework that addresses the relationship before the transaction. That model needed to see the consumer as people and not product buying numbers. The challenge is crossing that gap from traditional business model to a relationship based provider-ship.

Okay, its 2014 and after 10 plus years of testing, stumbling and finally seeing the combination, a small team unlock a unique sequence for developing a business model that works in this era of relationship based business. The acronym originally given was I.M.A.G.I.N.E. After ten years, the name resurfaced and held true. For name was a combination of the steps along the journey as well as the process needed to achieve the steps.

Here is a look at one of the canvases I use, as one of the creators, to have a discussion about this model :

Crossing the Gap 01

 

What amazes me to this day about this model is that it’s about making connections with others through Purpose and Trust. Each step across the gap challenges you to think differently about aspects around the emotional connection between two people, provider and the acquirer, the look at the environment that supports that relationship and, the mindset connecting those in the relationship.

There is considerably more to this model that address issues of identifying success as well as establishing the commitment needed to follow this unique and eye-opening model. In the end, IMAGINE is the pre-work model that allows a person, business or organization to create that purpose, that “Why’ as Simon Sineck says, that draws others to a relationship. It is the framework on a human level of empathy, not apathy.

See an example of IMAGINE during a recent conference for the banking community: LINK

Are you looking to evolve yourself, your business or the organization to meet the needs and wants of future consumers? Drop me an email and let’s talk.

 

 

Focusing The Conversation

Part of the role I am tasked with in my field is helping to uncover the underlining issues that most groups or individuals are overlooking or are unaware that exist. I traditionally do this through the use of visual translations and interactive visual thinking. It is important initially to make sure the goal is clear for the outcome of any meeting. As the role of facilitator, setting the path direction is key.

There are various methods used . All have their place and purpose. One idea I enjoy is starting any conversation with a question, but not your typical question. A question that becomes the focus lens to issues that may need to be uncovered. A question that is approachable, yet has very telling feedback. I call this a focusing question.

Focus Question

After introductions and everyone is comfortable and before the real work begins, introduce a index card with the question visualized above.

“____________ need(s) a way to _______________, because_________________________.”

Share with them that the first space, I’ll call the “Who”, should be filled with a person or persons that you feel are key to your group. It can be anyone from a customer, staff, executive or even family or friends. The second space, which I’ll call the “What”, is the key process or action that can not be achieved currently. And last is the “Why”. This is the reason or purpose for the need by a person or persons.

It is important to note that, by not directing them to a specific person, action or purpose, you begin the process of unlocking each person’s more urgent concern. Once completed, collect the responses and during the course of the event. Combine and tally all the participants responses on a grid. Now you can begin to see an insight into the underlining issues that maybe present, but not discussed.

Start the Conv

By initiating the conversation in this way, you have a guiding tool throughout the conversation/session that also allows to keep the conversation on track as well as providing content for deeper reflection after the event.

Public Transport Theatre

Graphic recording, visual thinking and even sketchnoting are all things hard to communicate via email, phone conversations and even one-on-one, so how can you share what you do with impact and clarity?

Find a captive audience and let the show begin!

Recently, on a trip to Vancouver, BC, I was onboard the Clipper heading over to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Ferry crossings are slow and take a good amount of time. Like all public transportation, the seating is adequate. On the Clipper, seats are arranged in tight groups of four around mini tables that are provided for eating, reading or just relaxing. The advantage of traveling with one other person is that you always end up seating across from two strangers.

On this trip as with so many others, I pulled out my sketchbook to record some ideas I have thought about. I opened up my pad, grabbed by pens and began visually reconstructing an idea. Immediately, the couple across from us became interested and then hooked. Their eyes followed as my hand moved from one node to the next as if unveiling chapters in a story.

Eventually, one of my audience speaks up. “What is that you’re doing?” That’s my cue. Start the music from the Calliope, put on the smile and it’s showtime? My response is always the same… “I’m capturing ideas visually so others can understand later on.” This is vague enough to get a head nod or a tilt of interest.

The next few minutes I explain how visually we all think and remember things as well as show examples of earlier work, either on my tablet or from the sketchbook. I share with them how others have used my talents to better communicate or identify ideas to larger groups. While all this is happening, curiosity spreads around the nearby seats and more eyes and ears are drawn in on the conversation.

I demonstrate how it helps, not by using the spoken word, rather by starting a new page and banner title it “Interesting People I Have Met”. I ask them to share why they do what they do and begin the recording. I ask eavesdroppers also. Soon a handful of people join in and the fun begins. People begin connecting with me and with each other.

Nov TripThe show is in full swing, time to spread the word…

Eventually, someone inquires about applications of this thing you do. Time to get contact information and spread out the calling cards. Remember, you’re not just creating new friends, this is you livelihood and the best way to promote yourself, because you never know if they may be the next client or stepping stone to that client. At this point I always politely try to get email addresses to send them links to see the final work as well as my portfolio.

“Storytelling is the key to adding value to anything you offer, especially if it’s others providing that story.”

Storytelling 01

Anywhere there are a mix of people waiting for something, you have an audience to entertain, share stories and eventual educate to the world of graphic recording and visual thINKing.

Visual Storytelling

Storytelling 01

I have noticed over the past year that more and more clients I work with are focused on business storytelling. Many companies are reconnecting with the power of having and telling their story, because of this, more companies are hiring graphic recorders and visual translators to help capture these elements and connections. In fact, they have begun to use the visual language tool to help develop their verbal storytelling scripts.

So, why are graphic recording and visual translators becoming popular as a key tool in the creation of business stories? One answer could be that we have been programmed to identify with visuals as an essential part of our storytelling experience. In many ways this is true and yet it goes even deeper.

Storytelling 02At a high level as children growing up, our first frameworks to communication and learning were tied heavily to visuals. Many of the books we grew up with were composed of few words and lots of images. Mother Goose, Dr. Seuss and Dick and Jane books all used visuals to support the words.  We were developing visual clues and associations to the words. We were learning through visuals and storytelling.

Storytelling 03Let’s back up the clock a bit further, 40,000 years further. Cave walls are filled with images of animals, hunters and even heavenly bodies. All to communicate their surroundings, important events or to catalog area life. What is most amazing about these paintings and charcoal renderings is that they tell stories, stories that are still understandable  40,000 years later.

The popular explanation is that what we see as images is processed much differently than what we read or hear. Images and visuals are processed at a higher rate with greater memory sourcing without the mechanics of deciphering, organizing and association that the written or spoken word is required for processing. Just reading this post uses more thinking processes around just reading that of a visual which taps deeper and creates better connection to other ideas. We think better with visuals. It’s part of psychology as well as our physiology. We are wired to learn visually. (at least 90% are)

So, back to business storytelling and the use of graphic recorders and visual translators. Okay, I think you know where I am going with this, but allow me to add one more dimension with visuals as it applies to business, and group understanding. Visual translations and graphic recordings allow, not just the conveyor of information, but everyone seeing the information to understand the idea or ideas being expressed.

As I always say ‘the best plan or idea is the one seen by all.’ Just as the caveman painted his story of hunts,tribal life and the changes in his environment which we still can comprehend 40,000 years later, companies are utilizing the talents of visual translators and graphic recorders to help visualize their stories and ideas to unify and better communicate their story.