seeing the experience within the experience


“We are all joined in a circle of stories.”
Linda Joy Myers


“Stories are like spiders, with all their long legs, and stories are like spiderwebs, which man gets himself all tangled up in but which look pretty when you see them under a leaf in the morning dew, and in the elegant way that they connect to one another, each to each.”
Neil Gaiman


In ‘the experience economy’ or ‘experience as value’ world far too many people are simply laying out ‘experience’ as some amorphous wonderful blob of ‘do it well’. Sure. Sometimes it is “customer experience”, sometimes user experience, but more often than not someone stands up in front of a big screen and suggest “experience is the new value.”

*** note: experience is an extension of product value, not value in and of itself. It is an expansion of proof. If the experience doesn’t add value to the product itself, i.e., just be entertainment, it creates unmatched anticipation-to-expectation reality in usage.

The truth is that not all experiences are created equal, competing on experiences is a race to the bottom (or a commodity in which you can charge less and less for) and any experience value truly resides on the experience within the experience.

Let me explain. If you want to find real value, the stuff that drives up experience value, begin identifying the experiences within the experience. A simple trip to the coffee shop becomes an order, an eavesdropped conversation, a thought on how that related to something you may have heard the night before, what your roommate would think of it, the conversation you are having in your head if you talked with them, how that makes you feel, and then your amazement that all that happened to you in an unexpected moment on a bland expected transactional experience you were doing.

The value is found within the threads in individual experiences.

While we like to think not everyone “sees the things no one else does” the truth is everyone sees the experiences within the experience.

In different terms it is actually an ability to take advantage of the ‘now’. An ability to expand experienced time – in a good way. Conceptually this is adding dimension to a linear, or horizontal, time continuum. I bring that up because many businesses map out ‘customer journeys’ <which can be a helpful tool> and, yet, that linearity can make you miss the experience within, which is expandable, and reflects essential parts to value. The best example I have of this is when I speak with UI/UX people and suggest ‘frictionless’ can actually diminish value and that purposeful friction moments can actually expand value.

But. To be clear, many of these experiences are unplanned. They simply intersect with a standard continuum of experiences representing added value. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that many experiences within the experience is a reflection of the fact one person’s experience is intersecting with another’s experience <or a number of them> creating an expandable moment as it shoves multiple experiences into a time space planned for one essential experience.

Yeah. In those moments, at its simplest, experience goes vertical and, at its most complex, it becomes a spinning helix of multiple experiences. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out this is also where ‘stories’ occur, not in the grand experience but rather in the experience within the experience – the moments that become stories to the one who experienced it.

Anyway. All of that can seem overwhelming and create some uncertainty on how to optimize this whole “experience economy” thing being thrown around. All you really have to do is craft an experience that has experience opportunities nested within and then make sure you get credit when someone triggers a nested experience. You will not always get it right, but I can guarantee you will get it righter than someone who simply says “its all about the experience.”

Written by Bruce