Experience Economy: Go With the Flow

There’s a lot conversation from the design world about the customer journey. Each design firm has its own version of how customers travel through the place, be it physical or digital. What many have in common is the attracting of customers. In the physical world, they label the outside environment of the place as Attract. They explain, “The design must draw people inside in order for them to do business with you.”

However, if your institution is looking for ways to participate in the emerging Experience Economy, you’ll want to begin staging Experiences for customers. And you should start by using a different design criteria terminology—one that better aligns with experiences. Instead of trying to attract customers, think in terms of enticing them. Enticing suggests that you’re providing the customer with a call to action—rather than merely attempting to stand out from the masses and be noticed.

In the economy of Experiences, enticing is the act of luring a customer in. It speaks to something special, unique, even other-worldly. Enticing is also the first phase of the flow of an Experience. It is the cue in the outside world to beckon the customer inside and teases what awaits inside.

Take the Build-A-Bear Workshop stores. The façade around the entrance way is their enticing zone, which allows them to begin telling the story of customized and personalized teddy bear creation. It speaks to customers, telling them that “here is where your dream bear becomes real.” It is enticing them to come and build a bear of their own.

Following along the flow of the Experience, the customer transitions through the second phase—or liminal space—called entering. It may not sound as exciting as enticing, yet it is as critical as any other phase in the flow of an experience. It is the phase—be it a distance or span of time—that guides customers into the world you’ve created. It transitions them from the outside and into your place. The entering is one of the most overlooked phases in business. It is commonly treated as merely the doorway in or out of your business and yet, to the Experience stager, it can be key to establishing the Experience. Imagine if Disneyland or Disneyworld didn’t have its deep gates and Main Street to establish its world. How believable would it be as the Magic Kingdom?

Entering is also where the stager begins changing the environment through the five senses. Sound and visual cues are strong ways to begin shifting a customer’s perception from the outer world to that of your business and the Experience. As with enticing—which establishes the promise—the entering begins to shape the promise. In this phase, it is crucial that it must reflect the brand and the Experience being staged.

Once the customer has entered, the engaging phase of an experience begins. Engaging is as it is named, the point where the customer engages with the business, brand, and staff—and where the promise established in the enticing phase begins to be fulfilled.

At this point, most services or goods providers see this as the end of the customer journey.

Yet in the Experience Economy, the engaging phase is followed by the exiting phase. Exiting—like entering—is usually an overlooked phase of the experience. Although it’s not as exciting as the engaging phase, exiting is critical to reinforcing the memories created during the engaging phase. Here the business has the opportunity to provide a token of the Experience.

In many museums, for example, this phase is represented by the gift shop or souvenir shop that’s well located for visitors as they are exiting the museum. It can even serve as a moment when they take photos with others in front of the marquee or display. It is a place that offers the opportunity to create a reminder of the engagement.

For banking, the exiting could be as simple as a handshake and a branded folder holding documents of a transaction. Or it could be the nice pen used to sign a loan. This phase is another liminal space, like that of entering. It is the transitional segment along the Experience Journey, leading from the inner world of your business back out to the outer world.

Finally, the last phase of an Experience is that of extending. It is that point where the engagement is extended beyond the place. Take Starbucks as an example. As a customer leaves the café, they typically carry the drink in a branded cup beyond the business out into the public view. Some customers even purchase Starbuck travel mugs as memorabilia of the experience. In banking, it can be a follow-up piece sent later that is personalized for the customer around the type of engagement they had—or a handwritten thank you note when adding a new product or service.

It is important to understand that the extending phase then becomes the enticing phase for the return visit. It can also become a means for customers to share their experience with others. It can be used to help transform customers into brand ambassadors and entice others to experience what is offered.

Here, a note of caution.

Working through the flow of the experience is not about a checklist of things to do along the way or build as needed. A clear strategy needs to exist—one that incorporates all five phases of an Experience harmoniously. Design and develop the complete flow of the experience before engaging customers to the Experience that will be staged.

 

Originally posted on ABA Bank Marketing, June 19,2017

The Story Spine and the Canvas

Recently, I had the opportunity to be refreshed on some fundamental storytelling techniques. One technique that earned my attention as a graphic recorder, either with traditional graphic recording on large sheet or my style of graphicnotes, is the Kenn Adam’s Story Spine technique in which the idea follows the classic fairytale framework.

If you’re not familiar with this technique allow me a quick diversion, as it will help later in this post. The Story Spine is a sequence of uncompleted starter sentences that define the story frame. These starters are; Once upon a time…, Every day…, Until one day…, Because of that…, Because of that…, Because of that…, Until finally…, Ever since then… This framework works wonderfully for quickly conveying a story about anything and it also gave me an idea for adapting to graphic recording.

Since we are those whom capture a flow of conversation I was wonder if graphic recorders could not have a “Story Spine” of our own. I understand that much of what we do is “in the moment”, yet idea of storytelling structure to graphic recording is quite intriguing and could change the game for reflection later on by the viewer.

So the challenge was to identify the various parts of graphic recording, especially in a business-meeting environment, and identify a possible Story Spine on the canvas. So I began the dissecting and pairing.

For graphic recorders, “Once upon a time…” is the establishing graphic of time, place and whom. We use clocks, calendar pages and so on visually record time and place is usually recorded as a stage, building or city. For who is expressed as people with nametags or a single person with a nameplate. The beginning is pretty clear.

Now we record the traditional pattern, “Every day…” In business, this is the ritual or rut of doing business. Sometimes we draw this as the process or mechanics of the client or event being reviewed.

“Until one day…” is identified as the catalyst or interrupt for the need to change. Remember, when we are brought in to co-facilitate as graphic recorders, the client is usually faced with a challenge or dilemma and is hoping to visualize a solution, so identifying the issue is key to the purpose of the recording.

For every action, there is a reaction. For every cause there is an effect. “Because of that…” illustrates this well. By using forms of mind mapping or context links from action statements we can progress the thinking in its various possibilities and diversions “Until Finally…” we achieve the near end of our recording, “The Big Idea”. This is the pinnacle of the drawing and defines the meetings purpose, to find that climactic change mechanism.

“Ever since then…” becomes the call-to-action and next steps for the team, which can be illustrated in various methods or preferences of the graphic recorder. These “Next Steps” is truly the change that needs to be provided and helps anchor the recording.

Don’t stop there, there is the moral that must be addressed, for the moral gives meaning and is the underlining driver for all the actions to be taken and how to avoid what no longer works. I believe this needs to be a highlighted area on the recording. It clearly illustrates the context of the visual conversation and helps focus the ideas moving forward.

So here is the recap as put to the Story Spine…

Before today, graphic recorders captured ideas and the conversations of groups while in the flow of the shared conversation, Each time, the graphic recording is created moving from left to right, top to bottom, text and images make reference points, add importance to ideas and link conversations along the way. Until one day, the idea of using a storyline framework was presented which would help guide the graphic recorder in staging the graphic recording and defining the relationship of sections on the page. Because of that the layout change and because of that the placement and connectors changed to help guide the viewer along the story of the challenge of the group, Because of that the graphic recorder was able to make the graphic recording a visual story of challenge, observation and direction. Because of that the participants could see the flow, sequence and conclusion until finally with this conclusion came their call to action for success.

The two morals of this story are that as Graphic Recorders, we have the opportunity to create masterful stories with each recording and produce guide maps to success. Second, never close your eyes to another industry’s tools as they may be opportunity to enhance yours.

The Archer and The Hare

Throughout history, stories have been used to communicate ideas, processes and even warnings. Fairytales and limericks helped children understand the world around them. Many religions used parables to teach people about belief, social behavior and the differences between good and evil. Stories, in any form, create better understanding, especially when associated with common activities in our lives. Some of these stories are analogies to help clarify complex ideas.

Business processes often use analogies to speed the comprehension process. Team sports are a popular theme. Baseball, Football and even Basketball are some of the most commonly used to express teamwork, strategy and tactics. Anyone who has played sports at anytime of their life can relate to this type of analogy. I have my favorite story or parable that speaks to strategy; “The Archer and The Hare.”

I can’t remember when I first hear this story used or even who my storyteller was at the time when it was told, but like all good visual stories, it has stayed with me most of my life. Allow me to share it with you.

***

Our young archer had practiced his archery lessons for weeks. He used an old flour sack filled with sand as his target. With each pull of the bow-string, he strengthened his arms and with each release of the arrow, sharpened his aim. By the end of four weeks, he had improved his marksmanship so well that he rarely missed his target.

Early one cool spring morning the young archer set out on his first hunt for food for his family. With his quiver filled with six arrows and his bow newly restrung, he set out for his task.

archer and the Hare

It wasn’t long before he cam upon an open field edged by a scattering of trees. In the middle of the field, sat a large fat hare nibbling on grass stalks. The young archer readied his bow and drew an arrow from his quiver. He slowly notched the arrow and drew back the bow-string. The bow creaked ever so slightly as he pulled on the string.

With the bow fully drawn, he paused, took a slow deep breath and aimed for his target. Just then, the hare began to move. Quickly the archer let fly his arrow. Swiftly through the air it sailed striking the very spot he had targeted, unfortunately the hare had moved and was no longer where the arrow would fall.

Quickly the archer drew a second arrow and pulled back his bow the second time. Once again he took a slow and deep breath to help steady his aim. The hare was now further away, but sitting still in the tall grass. With careful aim, the archer let fly the second arrow. Like the first, it sailed smoothly and with precise intent. As the arrow  closed on to its target, a slight gust of wind moved across the field causing the arrow to drift and missing the hare again.  The hare bolted to the safety of the tree line.

With haste, the archer drew a third arrow and began tracking the hare. With each bound, the young archer waited for his moment. The string was taut and the arrow ready. Now, only a few feet from the safety of the woods, the hare dashed headlong. The archer released the arrow. A twang rang out from the string and the arrow sailed through the air.

The archer was sure he would hit his target this time. The hare closed rapidly to the woods edge. The arrow approached at great speed. The tree line was mere inches ahead and the hare made his final leap.

The arrow struck hard and secure. The hare tumbled into the underbrush of the woods out of sight of the archer. He rushed to the woods edge. He didn’t find his arrow in his target, but stuck to a low hanging branch. A branch the archer did not see in his rush to shoot his third arrow at a fleeing target.

Upset and sadden, the young archer returned home empty-handed. Seeing this, his father sat him down and ask the boy to share his tale of the hunt. Bashfully, the boy spoke of the hare and the three arrows. He told how the first was on target, but the hare moved away. The second was a bit further shot, but the hare laid still. It would have struck, but a slight wind sent the arrow off course. The third was shot in haste, striking a tree limb he did not see.

The father smiled. “What you experienced was not uncommon.” he reassured his son. “You see, you took your first shot, aiming where the target was, not were it was moving to.” The boy nodded in agreement.

“Your second shoot, was a longer shot, but you did not the wind changing the direction.” Again the nodded in agreement.

“And you last shot was done in haste. You did not look broader to see if anything would affect the path of the arrow,” stated the father. With a smile, he looked at the boy and raised a net full of fish. “Its alright. We have food for today, but tomorrow, we’ll go out together and find that hare.”

Together, the two sat and talked. The boy laughed as his father shared stories of similar experiences he had as a young hunter. The talked well into the evening and the boy feeling wiser for the words of his father.

***

Well, I may not be the best story-teller nor have the story as colorful as told to me, but I made sure to cover the three aspects the story focuses on about strategy. The first issue is that of anticipation of your targets. Make sure to plan for movement. As a famous hockey player once expressed, “You skate to where the puck will be, not where it has been.”

The second issue is about understanding the conditions around your target and how they will influence your strategy moving forward. Allow for adjustments when needed and compensate for these conditions when all possible.

The last issue, I feel, is the greatest issue facing achieving your target. Not watching those conditions around you as your target moves. Be aware of obstacles that move into your path. Take a broader view of your strategy and see what may create obstacles that could end your path to the target.

o to those planning a strategy or are working through a new strategy, remember the advice from the father to the young archer, plan for influences, aim ahead of the motion and always view with a wider eye.

Good luck and happy hunting.

An Occurrence of Innovation

I have written and drawn on this topic before and from my earlier post, it has driven some very interesting conversations with groups who focus on conditions and mechanics of creating an innovation and action of being innovative. This subject of innovation and being innovative is a very complex and multifaceted issue. It has created a major divide in the thinking by those misinformed, highly involved and extremely learned.

In my earlier post on this subject “A Path To Innovate”, I focused on a methodology or the thinking process and avoided any mechanical technique. I have no wish to add fuel to an already heated, blazing topic, yet I do want to add something to the topic. I would like to add a bit broader visual about the occurrence of innovation. In my earlier diagram, I focused on the change to the thinking process as part of achieving an innovation.

I realized, by taking a step back further, I could see how an occurrence of innovation evolves and comes into existence. This not a change to my previous post or the visual I created, rather an expansion or companion piece. If you had read the earlier post you will notice that there are similar elements in both, however the key additions are “Status Quo” and “Communicate.”

InnoOccurs

I challenged myself to understand why there is a need to drive an innovation. I realized that the “Status Quo” is only remains as affective as the environment allows. When change occurs around the set item, its “Status Quo”, a need grows from that environmental change. This stimulates the process that can promote the path to innovation, but does not guarantee that it will occur only that it should.

In the second stage which I have labelled “Ideate”, the need has grown to somewhat of a pain issue. The item no longer fulfills the function due to the changes around it. This creates an opportunity for some enhancement or the creation of something new to fulfill the growing need. It is this need that generates new ideas, solutions to resolve where the status quo no longer applies. Yet, this phase also does not ensure that an innovation will come to exist. only the idea that it could.

The last phase begins to bring the innovation to life. To “be” an innovation, it must have two parts to exist. First, it must be constructed and brought into existence, not merely an idea that could be, but an idea that is. The second part of this is that the idea must be communicated. For an innovation to take hold it must be constructed and allowed to be shared so others are aware of its existence.

When it comes to innovation, the easy part is identifying a need and having an idea to solve it. The hard part is actually making it happen and have others apply it. An innovative idea can not live inside a vacuum, it must be constructed and shared to truly become an innovation. So take that idea and make it the next innovation.

Have a great day, and an innovative future.

You Are Here

I love the malls. My biggest enjoyment in these massive places is people watching. You can learn so much about how we humans interact and react. Also, there is great inspiration in these shopping meccas. One inspiration I use came from a sign that almost all shoppers have see, read and referred. It’s a sign predominately display for all to see.. I am referring to the mall map. The sign that plots out all the shops by place and group of services or goods.

The mall map tells us so much about our environment. However, this sign in its entirety was not the source of my inspiration, rather the simple red dot icon and three words accompanying it. “You Are Here.” As a statement to anyone planning strategy, this hits home quickly and strongly. In order to plan, we need to know where we are on this very spot and in this current time. We need to know where “You Are Here” is.

Here is a visual exercise that I challenge anyone who is planning to move forward to answer ‘Who’ and ‘What’ holds you bank and drives you forward.

Hold Back Move Forward

 

Before you can move forward you need to know your “You Are Here.”

 

The Path to Innovate

There has been much debate recently wether or not an idea, a non-tangible thought, can be an innovation. I present my visual map of the process through which an agreed innovation travels.

Path of innovationTwo key elements that need to be pointed out before providing my thoughts. The first element is along “The Path of Thinking.” Almost every innovation I have heard about, discussed or have been presented had a similar path of origin. All of the innovations, had resources from something other than the old thinking. In every case, the catalyst resource from which the innovation was derived came from outside the situation. In other words, the path of traditional thinking was halted and a new path introduced. As John W. Lewis of #Innochat would state, “This is a discontinuous action.” and I agree. He goes on to share, “it must also add value.”

The second key element to observe is that of “Measure.” To be innovative, implies improvement or enhanced value. To understand if there has been an improvement or enhancement of value, the idea must be implemented and then measured against the earlier condition for evaluation and validation. The idea must become tangible to be evaluated.

So here’s my thoughts on the issue.

I believe this, no idea, concept or notion, no matter how impressive, brilliant or revolutionary, can be deemed “innovative” on its own merit. In order to be recognized as an innovative idea, the idea must be put into action either by methodology, application or by production. Once applied or constructed, then can it be measured and evaluated against its ancestry.

An idea is exactly that, an idea. An innovation is a measurable application or production.