curating experiences

Stone Cairn

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

Experiences are meaningful when there is deep, ongoing, evolving emotional connection with everyone’s – employees’, customers’ and partners’ – core needs of how they want to feel in the experience. This is the neuroscience of experiences, and knowing how to put this into practices everyone can engage it results in a consistency. Meaningful experiences result in resiliency. For individuals and for organizations. Resilience results in sustainability.

Why Curate?

You may think this is an odd word to use in relation to experience management. “Curate” has hot, hip, new applications as well as deep historic roots.

  • Curate comes form the Latin curatus, meaning a person who is invested with the care of souls of a parish.
  • The Oxford dictionary definition is “to look after and preserve.” This is what most often comes to mind in the context of museums. Curators look after, cull and organize collections, all with a point of view to evoke an emotional response.
  • A 2009 New York Times article declared that curate has become a fashionable code word and it’s being pasted onto any activity that involves culling, selecting and editing. Blogs and websites are curated. Music events are curated. Stores curate. You get the idea. We’re surrounded by curated experiences – whether intentional or done without awareness.

Making curating relevant

All this above adds up to why the word curate works perfectly to describe strategic experience management:

  • The experience everyone is a part of creating and being part of is essentially the soul – the “beingness” – of the organization.
  • We always respond emotionally to our experiences (see the neuroscience section), so just like in museums, it’s the only focus that makes sense.
  • Everyone continually “edits” the experience by their choices related to people (individual attitudes, actions), processes (how things work or don’t work), and the sensory environment.

Just for fun – curate your day

Our habitual “edits” are our habits and practices, and those can always be adjusted, with a little awareness. Pick a day and view your day as a curator. Pick a desired emotion. How do you want to feel. Notice your choices in actions, your emotional states, your perspectives. What to you say to people, nor not say, how do you say it? What to you choose to eat, where and with whom? What project did you do, or not do, how did it feel engaging in that process from your desired emotional state?

This is a glimpse of the process of curating meaningful experiences. Of course, we have more tools to make this much easier!