BY Joe Pine

From Best Practices to Best Principles

best principles
By Joe Pine 

The other day a client mentioned offhandedly that they were looking at the “best practices” of other companies. I politely pointed out that was not the way to look at what other companies were doing. 

Best Principles

Do not approach exemplars – not just of the Experience Economy, but of anything in the business world – from the standpoint of “best practices”.
For examining best practices aims to see what others are doing well and copy them, which seldom really works. Plus, copying, by definition, never yields innovation!

Instead, seek out best principles.

Yes, examine what others are accomplishing, but do so in order to extract out the principles they are deploying in their industry, their situation, and their circumstances.

Then look at your own industry, situation, and circumstances to see how those same principles could be put to work in creating greater economic value for your business.

Learning Excursions

Gilmore - Learning Encounters

The best way to embrace best principles regarding the Experience Economy is to learn from experiencing.
Jim Gilmore and I first hit on this through our 20-year run of annual thinkAbout events.

It became the signature session of every event for Jim and I to lead scores of people (and occasionally over a hundred) into an experience hub city such as New York, Chicago, Washington DC, and that epicenter of the Experience Economy, Las Vegas, where we would go on a “Learning Excursion”.

Here our participants learned from some of the best experience stagers in the world (almost always including one or more of our Experience Stager of the Year award winners) – not to mention some of the worst as well. 

Pine & Gilmore's Field Guide for the Experience Economy

We didn’t always go to the most highly experiential of cities (Cincinnati, anyone?), but everywhere we went we could find companies from which to extract best principles, and gave assignments to the participants not just on how to experience but how to debrief as well.

For our 2005 thinkAbout event in Keystone, Colorado, we held the Learning Excursion outdoors – or largely did until a fierce snowstorm came whipping down the valley – and for that event even came up with Pine & Gilmore’s Field Guide for the Experience Economy so that others could create their own Learning Excursions and shift from best practices to best principles. 

Experiencing Experiences

When clients are serious about embracing the Experience Economy and want to develop ideas on how they can turn their “products & services” into higher-valued experiences (& transformations), to this day I love kicking off a workshop with a Learning Excursion.

The best way to learn about experiences is experiencing experiences! 

The final exercise of every debrief is a set of flip charts – one for each Excursion stop – where participants can write down (on the left side of the flip chart) one or more principles they see each particular experience applying. Each one then goes through all the flip charts and writes down (on the right side) a way the company could apply that same principle in their business.

It always gets the juices flowing for then further learning the ideas and frameworks of the Experience Economy in the workshop.

So stop with the best practices. Instead, practice best principles.

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