Orchestrating with experience systems thinking
Back in the early Web 2.0 days, there was a lot of talk about brands creating their “digital ecosystem” - where brands were rushing to not only having websites, but also social media accounts, mobile apps and email newsletters. This explosion of a new way of communicating between brand and consumer created new corporate departments and new agencies to execute on these new channels - which created even more silos in an already over-silo’d corporate world. The idea of “ecosystem” was never fully realized. As the name represents and new technologies came into the marketplace, we should have been building an interconnected system of platforms, content and conversation to build a better and strong relationship with our customers.
But we didn’t. And that opened the doors to massive disruption across many industries. As new value propositions like Uber, Spotify, and Warby Parker came to market, they were able to start with a clean slate - no silos around. They utilized these technologies to their greatest power and truly built an ecosystem around their brand, product and services. And now, the corporate world has to respond and react.
So what made these disruptor companies so successful? I would argue that it wasn’t necessarily their end product or service, but it was the use of systems thinking to create a new value proposition for consumers. They understood that in order to change the outcomes or events, they needed to understand, leverage and manipulate consumer patterns. And the only way to do this, is create the systems that continually build, emphasize and replicate the patterns needed to change the events. An example of this, is how Casper shifted the idea of buying a mattress. Their systems were created to change the pattern of buying a mattress in a store towards a purchase from an ecommerce platform. Which ultimately changed the outcome or event.
When I think of Experience Systems Thinking, I think of it as the intentional design and orchestration of a consumer experience around a brand promise or ideal. This intentional design starts with the vision of a desired outcome or event, then backs through the behaviors or patterns that are currently standing in the way of that outcome, which further backs into the intentional systems involved in creating the patterns or behaviors.
The brand leaders are the ones that are continuously tracking events to systems, then optimizing the systems to continually generate the desired outcome.