Business - Written by Denis Hancock on Monday, May 12, 2008 11:34 - 3 Comments
The Collaborative Experience Economy
As part of my research on next generation customer experiences, I was re-reading a great book by Pine and Gilmore called The Experience Economy. It was chapter seven that particularly piqued my interest, notably the section on the four forms of theatre – platform, matching, street and improv as they laid out in figure 7.1 (I have quickly re-created it in the link below).
The basic idea I am building towards is that wikinomics and collaborative experiences is about moving more and more of the business away from platform theatre and into improv – with street and matching theatre being steps along the way. But before getting there, some background on each is required.
In chapter 7 Pine and Gilmore present a “typical” day for Linda, who is leading new offering development for a U.S. automobile manufacturer. The time that she performs improv theatre is when a subordinate comes to her with a problem that must be handled immediately - and she draws on “the reservoir of managerial techniques she has stored up from past experience.” Platform theatre is when she “scripts in advance every line and every gesture, practicing each over and over again until she can confidently give a performance so accomplished that it comes off as fresh and spontaneous.” Street theatre is used when improv is too risky, but where “small, atomic units of activity are called on demand to construct a performance.” Matching theatre is when she pieces together “disparate facts and events together as a unified whole, much like a film editor or director.”
So that’s Linda – an executive. Now think about it in terms of a typical enterprise in regards to “front line” employees. For many years, companies have worked very hard to improve their platform theatre – a script developed by the executives to communicate the company message to customers (think: call centres, retail staff, etc.). The typical reason is/was that improv or even matching theatre is some combination of too hard and too risky – and it’s far too difficult to pull people together for street theatre on demand.
Now think about it in relation to new, collaborative web 2.0 tools. In the old model, only Linda was “qualified” enough to do improv – based mostly on her accumulated experience. But what happens when much of that accumulated knowledge (all the “Linda’s” over time) is accessible via (say) a company wiki – could you enable more and more employees to provide a more fulfilling experience that appears (to the customer / subordinate) like it is improv? Moreover, how much could Linda’s improv improve if she had access to everyone else’s knowledge? As the chapter notes, “Improv requires systematic and deliberate methods of originating creative ideas, fresh expressions, and new ways of addressing old problems.”
As an in-between step, it seems easy to argue that the tools enable improved “matching theatre”, doesn’t it? Where the appropriate tools can pull together disparate facts and events on demand? Similarly, and there ever-greater opportunities for street theatre, where various social-networking-like tools (supported by information on individual specialties) enable small, atomic units to come together on demand to solve a problem? To take the thinking a little further, by pulling customers directly in to co-create experiences (think: prosumption), is it similar to pulling audience members on stage to participate in the “improv” and make it that much better?
Anyways, I think it’s an interesting model to think about collaborative enterprises – moving towards a world where companies enable good improv theatre by ever-more employees, and ideally even pulling customers on stage as well. Any thoughts?
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