Past-Present-Future of thinkAbout

Had a wonderful and thought-provoking time at this year’s thinkAbout in Cleveland. Sadly, it’s the last event after 20 years. I am proud to say I have attended 10 of the 20 gatherings. It all ended at the place it began, Cleveland, Ohio.

The event was themed around time and the #ExperienceEconomy evolution and hosted by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. Each segment was separated by the past, present and future. Below are the visual translations.

The past was a tour from the beginning through last year’s gathering in New Orleans. Each city had a theme and usually had some tie in with the award winners. I have always imagined what city or place Joe and Jim would choose had I ever won an EXPY. Probably somewhere that embraced visual thinking or illustration. Oh well, its fun to dream.

The next day took us to the present in Jim and Joe’s wacky time machine. They shared the ideas and directions they were pondering for the next evolution of the Experience Economy. From time as currency to the Hinduization of the digital world. 32 million deities now transformed into 32 million apps on our mobile devices. When we wake to the chiming of our mobile devices it is the same as banging the pots to wake the deities. We do not worship them, we use them.

Our world view of the Experience Economy changed as Jim and Joe unveiled the next progression of thinkAbout, thinkAbout4U. A client focused gather mirroring the process of thinkAbout for Experience stagers.

We also discovered the last two award winners. For the EXPY, Carnival cruises took the prize for this year’s stager and for the EMA, Ty Koon received the honors as Experience Manager.  All in all, a great time of discussion, contemplation and investigation.

One thing I took away is that mobile technology is reigniting the lizard brain in all off us. We now react with Fight-Flight or Respond. This makes me wonder if we as humans are becoming the greatest experiment of Pavlov’s digital dog. (bing)

The second thing I took away is that Experiences should be designed to provide happiness, As goes of experience, we pay extra for that experience that makes us happy. No one pays to be made miserable, that’s called customer service.

Until next time, keep your eyes to the future and keep staging experiences that are photo-worthy.

Learning From Alice

In the Experience Economy, understanding the flow is critical in the success of any staged experience. A good example of how this works is through the story of Alice in Wonderland.

Flow of Exp

In order to develop a complete experience for your customer you must address every phase of the experience from the enticement to enter through the extending of the memory.

Misalignment Hassles of Life and Business

Have you ever experienced a car that was out of alignment. The strangest of noises occur. Excessive wear on the tires, possibly leading to unusual balding patterns. Eventually this misalignment can cause costly repairs and replacement if allowed to go unchecked.

Misalignment is true of our personal life as well as for business. Unlike the alignment of a car, realigning ourselves can be much more complicated. Like your car, unless you are trained at detecting the conditions and causes, you can cause greater harm than good. When we attempt to repair our own problems and try to realign that which is out of alignment, we tend to allow for subtle imperfections or incomplete repairs to save time or money. Hint, there are no savings to doing correctly.

Take a look at one of my favorite diagrams for personal and business. Now, imagine that every interaction you want to create for another, be it friend or client, you want to be memorable.

BPC Alignment

Ask yourself some basic questions as they relate to staging this experience.

  1. What is the Experience you are staging for others? (The Experience)
  2. What are your beliefs and are they focused on the purpose of this experience? (Culture)
  3. What is the promise you communicate to others that will become part of the experience you want to stage? (Brand)
  4. Where will this experience happen and is it a reflection of your promise and beliefs? (Place)
  5. What language or phrases will you use that can be associated only with the experience? (Language)
  6. What elements of decor or environment pieces will support and theme the experience? (Decor)
  7. Where will the interaction of the experience be found? (Engagement Zones)
  8. Finally, are all these elements of an experience in alignment?

If you are a business or organization, this alignment model becomes quite complicated and at times almost impossible to make work, but stop there. As I have said in the past and posted about, I don’t believe in the “Impossible” only the improbable. All things are possible once you understand how. If you don’t,then find someone who can help.

Just like taking your car to a service station to get realigned, it is best to seek others outside your organization or yourself to help guide you through the process of realignment.

Until next time. Focus on the creation of memories and not the mechanics of the Experience for the experience happens when the memories are created.

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


TEEC Highlight sm

thinkAbout 2013

Have you ever wanted to attend a conference where everyone is totally engaged in the content, speakers and activities, well if so, than you just missed the greatest conference of experiential development. A large group converged on to Washington D.C. for the annual event called thinkAbout. A conference unlike anything you have ever attended or experienced before. Two days of mind-filling information, exercises and adventures focused on helping business owners transform their businesses from service providers to experiences.

Created by the authors of “The Experience Economy; Work is Theater & Every Business a Stage”, B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore, thinkAbout is that and much more. Below are a few visual translations that are samples from the event. Too much to record in, so little time.

thinkAbout 2013 A webthinkAbout 2013 Cv2 webthinkAbout 2013 B web

Definitely a conference that follows what it preaches. You may have missed this year’s, but I recommend you definitely begin planning for next year’s thinkAbout and experience what a conference could be and should be, an EXPERIENCE!

If you’re interested in attending and have not attended an event before, alumni’s offer to share their chits to attend, because thinkAbout is a closed event and only available to those have the desire to transform their business.

Contact Joe Pine or Jim Gilmore at StrategicHorizons for information on next year’s gathering. Do it today, don’t wait, then read the book so you can jump right in on the activities, conversations and exercises around the concepts shared inside.

When you do call, tell them Kevin Dulle sent you.

P.S. For all attendees of thinkAbout, I have printed copies of high-resolution version available by request. You have my email and phone number so reach out if you like copies. 

Reflections of TEE

For those in the know, this past September in San Francisco, Pine and Gilmore held their annual thinkAbout. An event that embraces the concepts and principles that drive or evolve economic offerings into an experience. Unfortunately, my attendance was hampered this year by many issues, too many to bore you with.

Instead of sulking in my pity and sorrow of not attending or participating, as Joe Pine would clarify, I dove back into the books (TEE and TEE2) and began my visual thinking exercises. My focus was to look at the models presented by Pine & Gilmore with a fresh perspective. How else could I interpret the concept?

It is always a challenge to take a well communicated concept and give it a new spin. We are conditioned that once we accept an idea we rarely attempt to change our thinking to expand or challenge the concept, yet that is what visual thinking helps us do. So I set a pen to paper and mind into investigation mode. My query for this visual mapping was to reinterpret how the idea could be represented to illustrate the challenges or downfalls of the attempt or avoidance of evolving an offering to the next level. My direction was to look at the concept from an opportunity aspect and here is what manifested.


That was not the only idea I decided to attempt, I took two other ideas and applied the same idea as visualizing them into visual pieces which could convey more meaning with less written language to define them. The first is the elements of authenticity know as N.O.E.R.I (Natural, Original, Exceptional, Referential and Influential).

The last concept or principle was that of polarity. Polarity plays a strong part in the process of creating an experience. It is not always about pairing up opposites, it could be simply how opposites can work together or in succession. Las Vegas is a wonderful exemplar of polarity. From tourist trap by day to Sin City by night. Las Vegas never sleeps nor do the people who fill the casinos, bars, nightclubs and theaters. It draws revenue from both sides of the 24 hour cycle.

There are offerings that do play the polarity card very openly to create a new experience. Build-A-Bear reverses the role of the consumer to become the worker. By employing the act of customization, the consumer builds their own product. There are consumer paid experiences where you, the consumer, pay to experience a day in the life of a farmer, weaver, pottery maker, etc.. Role reversal is a growing part of those movement.

So how does this concept create new ideas or experiences? Take a look below:

Now, these were some quick, off the wall concepts, but you can see how the concept could spark some interesting events and experiences. Who knows, maybe these will spark an idea for you and your business offering. What could you do to your product or service that can have polarity applied to create an experience?
Let’s visually thinkAbout it and see.

It’s Showtime!

How do you present yourself, your offering and the delivery?

I have met many consultants or service individuals in the past years. They have presented themselves, usually, professionally, offered a good product and delivered in the expected method. Just like everyone else. I phrase it in this manner because of the absence of a memorable condition, experience or surprise. In most cases I have forgotten their names, the company they represent and even the service they were offering and was left with only a trinket of paper to mark the encounter.


Possibly the reason for this, besides having age on my side, is that there was no moment of theater during the interaction. The message or messenger was neither unique nor inviting. I was not drawn into to the mystique of the event of the offering. I was merely a potential cash flow to be sold a service, or at least that was the hopes of the seller. Just imagine what the deliverable would be like if it had a bit of more theatrics.

B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore ask the question, “If you had to charge admission for customers to see you, what would you do differently?” What indeed. This question haunted me for months after hearing them ask it at a think tank event. Charging admission to enter a business was so unconventional, unorthodox and very inspirational that it had me thinking about how to stage, storyboard client presentations, drive encore performances and most of all, how to create a story about my offering that would have people attend. As performing professionals, and yes I said performing professionals, we are hired to fulfill service agreements for our customers. What if we could deliver it in such a manner that it could generate higher business potential?

This type of thinking is not as unusual as I thought. I discovered many companies use the very idea of theater to deliver memorable experiences to deepen the brand loyalty, return rate and word-of-mouth promotion.  Apple stages its stores in this way. Their casts of geniuses are costumed with company apparel and each knows their role in this theater. Even the space is designed to create excitement. So much excitement, that customers are willing to schedule time in advance as well as people will visit just to be part of the culture that is Apple.

That’s all and good for Apple, but why should we create theater for our business? The answer is simple and powerful, people remember and share experiences with others and these brand evangelists also offer a higher rate of return business. In addition, if your theater event is stage correctly and uniquely, the price of admission could be higher than the competition due to the creation of an experience.

If you haven’t already read “The Experience Economy: Work is Theater and Every Business a Stage”, I suggest strongly you do so. It doesn’t matter which version, the original and the updated version delve deep into the methods and reasoning for creating an experience for the customer and drive high returns for your offering while your competition plows along in the traditional mode of doing business.

My words of advice for those businesses wish to stand out; create a big picture plan, develop and know your stage, perfect your acting skills and prepare to offer a dynamic and memorable performance that the critics (your customers) will sing for years across the digital and physical channels.

So as the curtain draws to a close and the virtual lights dim in this theater called the blog, I bow to your appreciation and attention in hopes that you will share my tale with others and return back for an encore performance and the next act.

Until your return, good night and good business.
Kevin Dulle, The thINKologist.