Memorable Experiences don’t just happen by chance, they happen by choice. In Staging our environments and Experiences, we have the potential to elevate the meaning of each performance. This week, we explore ways that leaders from across various industries are taking inspiration from our intrinsic human needs to help them Stage purposeful and meaningful spaces and Experiences. Take note in how they use props and how they bring forth their authentic selves to truly LEAD.
In an effort to win over the millennial audience from low-cost fast food restaurants, like Chipotle, Kimbal Musk, the younger brother of Elon Musk, changed the game with a radically different affordable and nutritious option. His farm-to-table food concepts called Next Door American Eatery and The Kitchen are in 16 locations with plans to expand. In each, he has partnered directly with farmers in the area with a menu that will highlight what’s easy for local farmers to grow (and sell). These principles are trending across fine-dining establishments, but here’s where Musk differs: his average entree is priced at or below $10. He is also Staging the ideal environment for millennials to hang out (safely during the COVID-19 pandemic) including full table service, happy hour, patio spaces, and weekly events.
To drive appreciative younger consumers into his spaces, Musk started Square Roots, an urban farming incubator program that installed “Learning Gardens” in over 300 schools across the country. The students who benefit from Square Roots are sure to be loyal consumers of Next Door in the future. “Next Door is about human trust — Where does the food come from? Is the farmer treated well? Is it nourishing for the body? Is it nourishing for the community and the planet? Our constituency really cares about all these things,” Musk says.
The Riveter, Seattle’s co-working space just for women, emphasized more than just ensuring the success of female professionals. Driven to encourage women to stop sacrificing self-care for success, The Riveter’s co-founders made a point of prioritizing the infusion of wholeness principles and practices into the physical space.
With in-depth racial equality programming, yoga studios, and meeting rooms filled with vinyl records meant to be enjoyed, their places were Staged to disrupt the presumption that you have to choose work over well-being. We have been inspired by their holistic vision for physical places and have also been watching closely for how the pandemic will impact co-working spaces. During the course of this devastating pandemic, The Riveter founders swiftly pivoted from the power of physical placemaking to the energy of a robust virtual community for women and converted The Riveter to a completely virtual space that continues to be a thriving resource for working women.
* In what ways might we Stage Experiences for our team members that are inclusive of self-care? How will our shift to untraditional work places and spaces create an opportunity to create more meaningful and robust online communities?
This piece is really about new ideas taking the Stage. It makes us wonder – how might a tattoo save a life? Researchers at MIT Media Lab have a new project that might make everyone rethink how they feel about tattoos in health care. DermalAbyss explores the possibilities of tattoo ink that serves as a biosensor to measure changes in glucose, sodium, or pH. Those with the tattoos would merely have to look for a change in the ink’s color to know that there’s a shift in their body. It’s in its early phases, but this simple prop turns the body’s surface into an interactive display, setting the stage for a new level of awareness. To further dive into the idea of health care wearables, enjoy this incredible TED talk from UCSD’s Todd Coleman on a temporary tattoo that brings hospital care to the home.
*In what ways can we Stage Experiences for our team members, providers, patients, and guests that not only makes their Experience more Personalized and enjoyable, yet also streamlines our internal processes?
Setting the Stage – Tools and Props to Bring New Ideas to Life
As we continue to explore the principle of Staging, let’s shine a light on the fundamental concept of “onstage/offstage” – the understanding that whenever we are in front of or in earshot of patients or guests we are in fact “On Stage.” We are performing our caring art for others. Staging is about planning for all that shows up in the spotlight—preparing our space, our Intention, and ourselves for positive interactions. Taking a few moments to consider how we will present ourselves and our environment can make a tremendous impact on the Experience we create.
With so much of our caring time taking place “On Stage” it is important to make room for “Off Stage.” Take time to step out of the spotlight and recharge, reflect, and rejuvenate.
Challenge: No one takes the stairs. Opportunity: Change people’s behavior by Staging an Experience.
Take these Piano Stairs in Stockholm. In an effort to address the design challenge of subway passengers only using the escalator instead of the stairs, a team from Volkswagen engineered stairs that, when stepped on, acted as piano keys. Their stage was irresistible, and 66% more people chose the stairs over the escalator. Travelers young, old, and canine enjoyed making music from their normally boring daily commute. It goes to show – we can change the behaviors of others just by Staging Experiences.
In what ways might we encourage positive behavior changes by Staging a radically different Experience from the norm? What might happen if we invited our teams to use Staging and turn the ordinary into the extraordinary?
While we’ve been focusing quite a lot on how to Stage Experiences, there’s a part of our lives that we can Stage that you might not consider: our bodies. In an effort to learn about how the placement of your arms, hands, and legs speaks to how people feel, our friends at SoulPancake brought a body language expert to a park to analyze visitors. Body language plays a significant role in who we are as leaders — affecting how our team members think of us and also how they perceive the way we feel about them. For example, when we keep our arm and hand movements open, we build rapport with those around us much more readily than if we steeple our hands and use closed gestures. Take a peek at the video to see how you might be sending signals that you aren’t even aware of.
How do you Stage your body - arms, legs, and hands - when with superiors? How about when you’re with your team members? Based on the tips from the body language expert in the video above, how might we consider changing our body to Stage ourselves as welcoming, confident, and open leaders?
The concept of “Yes, and…” is at the heart of improvisation and represents collaboration at its best. What this looks like in practice is: 1) accepting what your partner (or colleague) presents to you regardless of how outlandish or unexpected (YES!), and 2) adding something meaningful of your own in a way that builds in a positive direction (AND!). When we practice “Yes, and…” we leave all Experiences open to grand possibilities. Anything can happen when we say yes and add our own special magic.
Next time you are approached with a less than perfect suggestion or situation by a team member, try the “Yes, and…” technique instead of the idea-crushing “No, but…” language. See how others respond when you open the door to further thought.
The rapid transformation of our places and spaces due to pandemic constraints is creating a new canvas for imagining and designing safe and unique ways to gather. Innovators across the country are finding thoughtful, creative ways to refresh some old concepts and design entirely new Experiences. Drive-in venues are popping up everywhere. Indoor theaters are now providing outdoor drive-in options.Walmart is transforming 160 of its parking lots into drive-in theaters, offering curbside pickup for food and snacks during the shows. And many existing drive-in movie theaters are adding live shows and concerts to their summer schedule with car-side dinner services. As Governor Andrew M. Cuomo commented in thisbrief “Talk about going back to the future,” parking-lot drive-ins are a low risk entertainment option providing people with a safe, social(ly distant) Experience to gather and enjoy.
As you add new drive-up, drive-through, and curbside clinical offerings, what unique details might you add to those Experiences? Take stock of unused parking or newly vacated spaces and consider how these might become new stages to activate?
In Zimbabwe, like many places globally, mental health needs and depression rates are rising, often affecting those who don’t have access to proper mental professionals most. Dixon Chibanda, a psychiatrist in Harare, Zimbabwe, and director of the African Mental Health Research Initiative shared that there are only 12 psychiatrists practicing in a country of over 16 million. To take on this vital challenge of providing mental wellness, he trained over 700 grandmothers in evidence-based talk therapy with a free program they called theFriendship Bench program. The talk therapy is Staged on a bench which invites warm conversation with caring and understanding counselors. What makes the program so effective is that grandmothers are not only educated in new formal methods of therapy, but they also layer in the essential cultural roots concepts that people can relate to. The Friendship Bench has imagined anew mental health care in Zimbabwe and now New York – helping people cope with depression and anxiety–by creating a safe space to bring care and hope to those in need.