"How do you generate word of mouth? Excellence, of course." Tom Peters
Joseph Pine and James Gilmore wrote a fabulous book, The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre &
Every Business a Stage.
I’m particularly fond of their basic thesis: "Experiences are as distinct from services as services are from goods."
In that vein, I also came across this comment from star auto designer Freeman Thomas: "Car designers need to create a story.
Every car provides an opportunity to create an adventure. The [Plymouth] Prowler makes you smile. Why? Because
it’s focused. It has a plot, a reason for being, a passion."
Call it "mere semantics" if you will, but I am deeply moved by the idea of "experiences" vs. "services." By: Adventure … Story … Plot … Passion … and Smile.
Sounds like hyperbole, but thinking about PLOT per se has changed my work.
Take everybody’s favorite whipping boy, the airlines.
[At least they were the favorite doormats B.F. … Before Firestone.] Airline service is often lousy.
Prevarication heaped on top of prevarication, followed by miniature seats and food not fit for dogs.
But as I ponder it, the roots of the problem lie in deeper soil.
Perhaps: Plot … Story … Experience.
The plotis airlinus: An alpha to omega DEMEANING HUMAN "EXPERIENCE."
One of my close friends teased me once, claiming I go into my Airline Passenger Ogre Mode … about 10 miles before I get to the exit off Highway 101 outside San Francisco International Airport.
Funny [not-so-funny] thing, he’s right.
I begin subconsciously to conjure up the systemic horrors ["systemic horrors" = plot = story = experience = probable misadventure] about to unfold.
I, of course, am the primary dramatis personae in this latest episode of the 26-year-old tragicomedy series called Tom Flies to [Des Moines, Sao Paulo, wherever].
My goal here is not to single out the airlines.
[That’d be fun, but not productive.]
MY GOAL IS TO TALK ABOUT MY WORK … AND YOURS. THE "STORIES" AND "PLOTS"
AND "ADVENTURES" WE CONCOCT EVERY DAY, AND VIA EVERY PROJECT.
I’m flying to Orlando right now, expecting to give a daylong seminar tomorrow.
It’s a "professional service," to be sure.
But I hope, mostly and devoutly, that it becomes a "story" and "adventure" with a "plot" for me and my several hundred clients.
Do I expect to change 600 lives tomorrow? Of course not!
But I do hope to "connect" in a profoundly important way to a handful of people … connect in a way that makes them review their "story" and its "plot."
[That is, career, current project.]
I’ll be very sad if I deliver a "service" and very glad if I provide – to a few who are ripe for it – an "adventure."
My day constitutes the provision of a "service," starting with the marketing pitch sent months ago and including the meal and effectiveness of the air conditioning in the auditorium.
Every service component must be considered, planned, and executed to near perfection.
BUT THERE’S SOMETHING BIGGER.
AND THAT "SOMETHING" IS THE ESSENCE OF WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING.
THAT "SOMETHING" IS A THEATRICAL PRODUCTION CALLED "TOM’S
ADVENTURE TOURS IN CORPORATE + PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION."
Now what about that "trivial"
policy rewrite you are working on this month?
That policy – sick leave, revised financial reporting schedule – will be received by dozens or thousands and it will alter their lives a little bit.
So: WHAT’S ITS STORY + PLOT?
Will the policy actually bring a smile to their faces?
Will it reek of care and concern?
Will it reframe an important aspect of the workplace or the customer’s transaction ["cool" adventure??] with us?
Is your "deliverable" a "competent piece of work"?
Or, in its own small fashion, is it analogous to a sterling performance by Pavarotti or Yo Yo Ma?
Thinking about the "adventure" I present has, as I said, made a difference to me, even after doing my stuff for three decades.
I now think in terms of "conjuring up the unique ‘plot’ of the forthcoming day; and I try to add a "plot twist" here and there that will make it a memorable saga for at least some of my clients.
Semantic quibbles? Perhaps for you. NOT FOR ME.
Tom Peters/Seat 6E, CO1512/09.20.00
The quadrennial Olympics are upon us. So, too, the quadrennial contest to see who becomes the most powerful person on earth. [George or Al.]
What do the two events have in common? EXTREMISM.
Extremism … the most powerful force on earth. Indeed, the only force - global or local - that matters.
That causes the earth to spin a little faster than normal.
Forward, and for good. And, indeed, backwards and for ill.
Every kid who makes it to Sydney, from any nation and in any sport, is an extremist. By definition.
She [or he] was selected in a grueling, meritocratic competition.
Many have given their lives for the last dozen years to achieve membership in one of earth's most exclusive clubs: MEMBER OF AN OLYMPIC TEAM. Who may perform, in the finals, say, for a "mere" 9 seconds … to earn the title of Earth's Fastest Human.
"Wooden" Al Gore and "Smirking" W. Extremists? Absolutely!
Both may well be born to politics, more than you and me … but the competition to become one of two out of 260,000,000 Americans vying to be Supreme Leader of the Planet is merciless.
You can be damn sure that a raging competitive fire rages in both their breasts.
And, surely, the breast of Campaigner Against the Forces of Evil #1 … Ralph Nader.
I mention all this because I am always nonplussed when a member of the press - Dilbert Dad Scott Adams or Financial Times management columnist Lucy Kellaway - rips into me mercilessly for "demonstrating too much enthusiasm."
Or for wearing my now trademark sweater with our logo … a Brilliant Red Exclamation Mark.
Not to mention the fella who demanded a refund from one of my seminars, because I had actively encouraged employees to ignore their bosses … and get on with Stuff That Matters.
Pick up any history book. Any nation. Any topic.
IT IS A STORY OF EXTREMISTS.
100% EXTREMISTS. Washington. Gandhi. King. Copernicus. Picasso.
And, indeed, Stalin and Hitler.
That's not news: Entrée to the history books is by definition a sacrificial willingness to take on the "bosses"/ establishment.
King George III in Washington's case … and the Pope in Copernicus's.
I want my time on this planet to matter. I want, somehow, to Make a Difference
... global or local. Thence, I am a proud extremist.
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.