Elevation. Pride. Insight. Connection. Are your programs empowering your people to thrive?
As human beings, our lives can be documented by the moments we will recall time and time again. Indelible childhood memories. Seemingly random meetings with strangers. Turning points in our careers. These moments can lead to countless positive and measurable outcomes.
If we could recognize and understand the defining moments in our lives, harness the power of the experiences that helped shape and cement those lifelong memories, and incorporate a strategy to create immersive experiences into the meetings and events we create for our clients, could we not positively impact the success of such programs?
Such is the premise of a new book by New York Times bestselling authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath. We took a deep dive into their latest work and the premise that many of the defining times of our lives are the result of accident or luck, and that we shouldn’t leave our most meaningful, memorable moments to chance when we can create them.
At Creative Group, our proprietary i|xperience® approach focuses on enhancing the participant journey, ensuring those who attend our meetings and events are provided with opportunities to engage with their organizations’ messaging, brand, and strategic objectives. The Heath brothers conclude through their research that defining moments are created from one or more of four key elements.
The authors state that: “Moments of elevation are experiences that rise above the routine. They make us feel engaged, joyful, surprised, motivated. To create them, we can boost the sensory appeal, raise the stakes, and/or break the script. Research suggests that organizations dramatically under-invest in building peaks, choosing instead to fill potholes.” Furthermore, they propose that occasionally remarkable moments shouldn’t be left to chance. “They should be planned for, invested in. They are peaks that should be built. And if we fail to do that, look at what we’re left with: mostly forgettable.”
For several years, a top luxury brand in the automotive industry has relied upon Creative Group to provide ideas that will make an impression on their high-end incentive program winners. We know from experience that a sophisticated, wealthy, and well-travelled audience can be difficult to please, but we thrive on such challenges and have a solid track record for impressing both guests and client stakeholders for such events.
We developed an Art of the Human Spirit theme that carried through multiple evenings of experiential events in Laguna Beach, California. Attendees were invited to a sculpture gallery that celebrated the essence of human movement. Strolling through the garden, attendees were immersed in acrobatic Cirque-like performances, and inside the gallery, paintings were mimicked by living replicas among the lavishly set dining room. In short, we strived to elevate the shared experience, and the results were extraordinary. The interactive nature of the program and its intimate environment left a lasting impression on participants.
Our takeaway concurs with the findings of the Heath brothers: “Moments of elevation are experiences that rise above the routine. They make us feel engaged, joyful, amazed, motivated. Moments that “break the script” are critical for organizational change.” The challenge of building peaks into an event itinerary can be difficult, but it’s worth the effort, because they have the capacity to provide some of the most memorable moments of our lives.
The Heaths contend that moments of pride commemorate peoples’ achievements and that we should strive to create more of them. The premise is that we dramatically underinvest in recognition, and we agree that a small investment of effort yields a huge reward for the recipient.
We know from experience that the nuances in program design can capture the attention of varying levels of a sales team. For example, certain elements should appeal to the top performer who is driven by social rewards like recognition and status. On the other hand, a mid-level team member may be more connected to earning rewards based on achieving increasingly higher goals and thus being elevated to a higher tier.
When Creative Group was tasked by a leading biotech company to review the measurement of goals and achievements from its current fiscal year, while also setting the tone for the upcoming year, we created the meeting theme Think Outside because it carried dual messages, both literal and figurative. We recommended ideas on how the group could use their time outside for meetings and activities, as well as a means by which to motivate them to “think outside the box.”
The Mile-High City proved to be a naturally beautiful backdrop to cultivate personal well-being and innovative thinking. Our “glamping” theme served as a salute to Denver’s active culture and scenic camping and hiking trails. Teambuilding events were organized to allow participants to immerse themselves in the area’s natural scenery, encouraging them to go mountain biking or hiking on local trails. At the culmination of the program, a surprise event was held at Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Attendees of this meeting were not only called upon to discuss the progression of their company, but also to encourage movement in their own lives. They valued the personal interactions with their peers as well as the ability to enjoy the natural beauty of the environment. The results of a post-program survey indicated that over 90% of participants rated the meeting as good or excellent.
We echo the beliefs of the authors that effective recognition is personal, not programmatic, and that best-in-class companies constantly research and evaluate their audience to ensure they are designing initiatives with ALL types of performers in mind.
Heath and Heath state that “moments of insight deliver realizations and transformations. To produce moments of insight for others, we can cause them to “trip over the truth” by revealing a clear insight, compressed in time and discovered by the audience.” The authors acknowledge that “many moments of insight are serendipitous. Lightning strikes, and there’s no explaining why. You can’t schedule epiphanies.” However, they also believe, and we agree, that clearly defined insights into a company’s corporate goals can help inspire long-term advocacy and brand ambassadorship on behalf of those who represent the future of the organization.
Since 2004, Creative Group has been fortunate to partner with a major beverage retailer operating in 60 countries. When we were challenged to incentivize their top performers with an experience they could learn and teach others about, we designed a group incentive travel program to generate brand ambassadors. Our Origin Experience program was an immersive coffee education trip that gave key partners the chance to experience coffee from plant to cup, and drive home the company’s commitment to socially equitable and sustainable business practices.
Over the course of a five-day event in Costa Rica, participants visited five farms, a co-op, and a mill where the hulling, polishing, cleaning, sorting, and grading of the coffee bean takes place. Partners had the opportunity to experience coffee harvesting techniques from picking and milling, to drying and ultimately bulk packaging. The majority of the education took place in the fields and the mills, in natural settings to further the understanding of the climate and laborious task of coffee production – and to foster an emotional attachment to the product and the client brand.
Heath and Heath point out that to produce moments of self-insight, we must stretch, placing ourselves in situations that involve the risk of failure. Because our trip was centered on the coffee journey, it represented a real logistics management challenge, as the places visited were working farms and mills in non-tourist areas. But these risks were well worth the reward, as evidenced by participant remarks such as this: “This experience has been life-changing for me personally and at work. I am even prouder to be a partner and feel very blessed to be part of such an amazing company.”
The final pillar in the Heath brothers’ foundation of the power of moments centers around the concept of connection. “Moments of connection bond us together. Groups unite when they struggle together toward a meaningful goal; they often begin their work with a “synchronized moment.” In individual relationships, it’s responsiveness that deepens our ties, and a responsive interaction can bring people together very quickly.”
The book dives into group dynamics and explains how groups bond when they struggle together. “People will welcome a struggle when it’s their choice to participate, when they’re given autonomy to work, and when the mission is meaningful. Connecting to meaning reconnects people with the purpose of their efforts.”
One of Creative Group’s longtime clients and partners provides its customers with auto, home, life, umbrella, business, health, and farm & ranch insurance, as well as retirement products. When the company contacted us to design and deliver its first-ever personal and professional development conference for independent contractor agents, it was not about the company’s products and services. The goal was to create a sense of mutual understanding that would influence agents to improve their businesses from a long-term planning, marketing, and selling skills perspective.
The conference was seen as critical to establishing and maintaining a strong connection between the corporate office and its agencies. The company was not paying for agents to attend the conference, so participants needed to clearly understand the purpose of and appreciate the value in attending.
The program we developed, Know to Grow, was communicated via a fully integrated promotional campaign pre, during, and post-event. Driven by pre-event agent input – derived from interviews and surveys – we were able to develop a motivational and educational experience. We helped to create a world-class onsite experience, allowing agents to better meet the needs of their customers and more effectively represent the company. Post-event surveys showed that agents gained a better understanding of how to run their business and a stronger connection to company.
What will be your “aha moment?”
The overall takeaway from the Heath brothers’ book is that once you realize how important moments can be, it’s easy to spot opportunities to shape them. At Creative Group, we understand how immersive experiences make gatherings more engaging for participants. They make better learning environments and create a higher return on investment, resulting in direct profits or future sales and greater mindshare. Our i|xperience model is based on the intersection of six key components which collectively converge to cause change in participants’ behavior and/or spur them on to take strategically focused action.
Once we devise a strategy to help our clients identify their organizational goals, we create one-of-a-kind experiences designed to inspire and empower them, while immersing them in an extraordinary, multi-sensory environment. Team up with Creative Group, and your next meeting or event won’t just be memorable… it’ll be EPIC!
Ready to create an i|xperience?