Experience is another word for LIFE. We move through our lives and actually measure them as a collection of experiences we label as pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. Thoughts are experiences too—some of our best ones in fact never “actually” happen but they do “really” happen in our thinking. Today, in what I like to call “World 4.0”, the through put rate of messages across thousands of channels (there used to be 3 networks and the newspaper!) increases exponentially over time. As an experience, we begin to label this volume of content coming at us 24/7 as “noise” or even “stress”. All of us are the Global Audience and we’re much more likely to invest our time in something that immerses us in a pleasant experience. We avoid and are increasingly suspicious of un-rifled claims (advertising and marketing) and we all believe our eyes and ears more than any other source of information. This is true across the range of experience, from choosing a cup of coffee to picking a place to have surgery.
In World 4.0, the hunger for novelty is acute, commoditization is rapid and audience loyalty is fleeting. Universally, what we as a species are now saying to that roiling maelstrom of events and energy we call “The Market” is “My time is precious! If you want some, convince me you will enrich me!” Last year, I spoke at a conference at Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota on “design-thinking” in business. The event was about exploration of the way artists think and how those processes might be used to creatively solve enterprise issues. What I learned, among other things, is that our approach to making places, brands and new organizations IS this thing called “design-thinking”. Enter the power of story. Narrative, we have discovered, is the ultimate experience design tool. It is native, it is accessible and it always works whether or not the experience to be offered is a vacation on a perfect beach, a tonsillectomy, 30 minutes of animation or a middle-school science lesson. Using an intentional and methodical design-thinking system to create an experience, a piece of someone’s life, assures not only an attractive story for that novelty seeking skeptic battered by the noise and confusion in World 4.0, but also a highly efficient and elegant process from earliest concept to boots-on-the-ground execution. Now, while it is a simple approach, it’s not easy. Creating narrative-assets and moving them through a pipeline of design, development and production requires the perfect chemistry between intense project management and a uniquely creative team. The core of the system is the other magic. It is always the Audience. The willingness to deeply know, engage and cherish the people we create experiences for is something that can’t be compromised. Experience Design is a deep responsibility. It is after all a LIFE we are helping to create.