Creating an experience

courtesy of

courtesy of

I’m headed home after a week in New York working in a “design lab”. I hear the flight attendant in a lighthearted voice say: “Headed to a tropical destination where you are sipping mohitos, reclining in a hammock, listening to the sound of the surf…” I immediately think about my end of year trip to Mexico and how fun and relaxing it will be.

“…then you might want to see me. We are headed for a sea-side resort, but it’s Chicago.” I smile. She’s got my attention. Instead of reading my book, I find myself listening to her as she talks about how our bags need to be tucked under our seats and laptops put away – the blah, blah that I usually tune out. Her voice is light with an overlay of responsibility, because, after all, this is serious business. “Please don’t try to hide any bags under your legs because I will find them”…I see my row mates smiling with me, and someone says something about her being like a dog who will find and dig up a bone. I feel happy sitting next to my to these people.

“I’m from a sea-side location…I’m Stephanie from San Diego.” By the time she gets to this, I feel I know her, that she’s shared herself with me.

Personality. Character. Connection. Clarity. She seemed to be saying “I see you.” I want you to have a great experience. AND, “See me.” I take my responsibility seriously. We were having fun with a purpose. Her opening visuals awakened our attention. Her dog that could sniff things out approach was to engage us. Her spirit was contagious as passengers opened up to each other. Not only did she see each of us and each of us see her, we began to see each other, too.

My work this week focused on creating an experience for our company’s executives. I wondered what the experience on the plane might teach me about creating an experience. I found myself asking questions:

  • How do you capture people’s attention?
  • How do you create a contagious environment of fun and openness?
  • How do you do this in the context of important business to accomplish?

I took away these insights:

  • Have a clear outcome and let it move you in the desired direction.
  • Be intentional about what you want to create.
  • Focus on how you engage with people to get where you are going.
  • Use the senses (e.g., imagery) to arouse feelings and emotions.

In the lab this week, we spent lots of time on these, co-creating and shaping, bringing in each person’s brilliance and wisdom. There were moments I think we were all wondering if we’d end up with a design we could share with our executive by the pre-arranged time. Yet, we dared to trust the process and believe in ourselves. Once we found the shared essence of what we wanted to create together, the details flowed unobstructed.

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