It’s been a little while since my last Faces of Innovation post (on the Director persona, which has a quiz in it, that no one has taken yet! Go take the quiz! Everyone loves quizzes!), but today brings the next discussion in the series based on Tom Kelley’s The Ten Faces of Innovation: The Experience Architect.
Experience Architects are people who focus relentlessly on creating remarkable customer experiences. In Seth Godin’s terms, these are people who create the purple cow: making your business or enterprise remarkable, as opposed to humdrum and same-old.
Experience Architects love to use multiple forms of media, and as many of the five senses as possible. The goal is an all-senses, all-media experience that immerses the participant in an interactive journey. And journey is a key term here, which we’ll talk about in just a little bit.
Experience Architects can bring innovation to industries where little change has happened for many years. Some examples from the business world – paint cans are notoriously difficult to open, messy when you pour from them, and difficult to close properly. Dutch Boy finally figured out that there was no law stating that paint cans had to be this way, so they designed (and patented, I believe) a paint can that has a screw-off lid, a built-in handle, and a spout for easy pouring. Genius! It’s strange no one thought of it before now, though. Another example: wine bottles – every year a lot of wine is ruined because of cork failure. More and more, the wine industry is going away from corks and it’s becoming acceptable to put screw-on caps on wine bottles and even (gasp!) drink wine from a box.
One important task for Experience Architects is mapping the "customer journey". For church leaders this will mean identifying how new people interact with your church, from start to "finish", so to speak. In the book, Kelley says this journey almost always involves more steps than you realize, and it begins earlier than you realize. For example, before a new person sets foot inside the building, they may have already taken a look at your website, called and talked to the receptionist, or spoken with several members (or ex-members!) of the church. Most times, a lot goes into the journey before you ever see their face in your building. Map that journey, and find ways to make it more remarkable. It should be easy to go to church.
One last note about Experience Architects in churches: it’s not just the building that counts. The thrust of the missional mindset says that ministry has to be taken out of the church building and integrated into everyday contexts. There are now dentists who have gone mobile, setting up a teeth-cleaning station in a van, and stopping by office buildings so employees can get their teeth cleaned without driving to an office somewhere. So, church leaders, ask this question:
- Can people benefit from your ministry in other ways besides coming to the church building?
For example, podcasting sermons is one way of doing this, but what about creating new forms of content available exclusively apart from the church building? For example, we are thinking about podcasting our weekly staff Bible study/discussion. Two of my Bible classes were podcast and are now available for free on Heartland’s website (a class on the Sermon on the Mount, and one on Colossians). I’m sure there are other ways, too, of making our "product" available to people who never set foot inside our building that I haven’t thought of. If enterprising dentists can go mobile, we can figure out how to get the gospel outside the church building.