Gerald Haman loves questions. In fact, his favorite question is "What is your favorite question?"
So here was my question. How did he and his company, SolutionPeople, get me to travel half way across the country to attend his Accelerated Innovation & Creativity Workshop in Chicago?
Throughout my years in corporate America, I have experienced learning and training encounters in virtually every shape or form you can think of – leadership, selling, negotiating, public speaking and streaming media. Why was this going to be any different?
In their bestselling book, The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre and Every Business a Stage, Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore ask a series of great questions. In a world where most products and services have little differentiation, what would customers really value? Better yet, for what would they pay a premium?
The answer is experiences—how companies engage customers in an inherently personal and memorable way. The buzz on Haman's Accelerated Innovation Workshop was that it wasn't the traditional lecture and 3-ring binder snore, but a real EXPERIENCE.
This was a big lure for me. I had just became was certified by Pine & Gilmore in the theories and models of The Experience Economy. I wanted to discover if the Thinkubator "experience" lived up to its impressive word-of-mouth billing.
Located in a spacious loft in Chicago's West Loop, the Thinkubator is a truly innovative venue. Festooned with tools, toys, games, large-screen TVs, Aeron chairs, light bulbs in various shapes and forms, bean bags, sofas and sculptures, it invites you into a world that definitely isn't business as usual.
Haman's opening act is literally transforming. It's called the "Know Your Brain Game Experience." It's a quick, but amazingly accurate "brain scan." I won't spoil the surprise, but attendees gain some insight into how their brain works and how they can use this knowledge to become more consistently innovative. The game is a highly interactive experience and sets the stage for the introduction of SolutionPeople's 4-quadrant brain model and 4-stage Accelerated Innovation Process. (Investigate, Create, Evaluate and Activate). At this point, every participant gets a KnowBrainer® Innovation & Creativity tool. The brainchild of Haman, it's an innovative hand-held tool that uses a combination of questions, words, quotes and images to help people think through all the stages of his proven creative problem solving process.
Cool fact: Tests by students at Northwestern University and Wayne State University found that the KnowBrainer tool increased creativity levels by over 500% versus traditional brainstorming with flip charts. In just the first 3 hours of the Innovation Workshop, SolutionPeople delivered a memorable experience – engaging clients with entertainment, education and a dynamic venue.
A great experience? Most definitely. One of the most remarkable accomplishments of SolutionPeople is that the "experience" has fueled the growth of the organization. Haman hasn't relied on traditional advertising to get clients; growth was a result of word of mouth and the continuing story amazing Thinkubator experiences.
Author's Footnote: SolutionPeople's Gerald Haman recently invested an entire week with Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore to become a Certified Experience Economy Expert. He is already making plans to enhance the Thinkubator Experience by applying new ideas inspired by his interaction and discussions with Pine & Gilmore. Haman has organized a new LinkedIn Experience Economy Networking Group for fans and practitioners of The Experience Economy.