The Wild West or the Community Garden

In the Wild West where pioneering, innovating, and creating is about survival what can we learn from the Lone Ranger?

The Lone Ranger is an outsider.
The Lone Ranger is suspicious of the status quo.
The Lone Ranger avoids collaboration.
The Lone Ranger finds his own way.

This approach to the world could be the best approach if the world is mainly corrupt and largely full of powerful people who are actively against you and what you stand for. Adopting the “me against the world” mindset works, but is rarely sustainable. In the end, this uncompromising tragic hero dies a glorious and righteous death.

In stark contrast to the Lone Ranger, I came across the following quote from Randy Kosimar of Kleiner Perkins from the book Give and Take.

“It’s easier to win if everybody wants you to win. If you don’t make enemies out there, it’s easier to succeed.”

Kosimar sees the world quite differently than the Lone Ranger. It’s a place where people are mainly supportive unless you don’t play nice with others. Perhaps Kosimar is suggesting that Silicon Valley works more like a community garden than the wild west.

It’s best if we trust each other.
There is room for everyone.
We are interdependent members of this marketplace.
There are enough resources for everything good.

This approach to the world could be the best if the world is supportive, abundant, and trust worthy. Adopting the “let’s all win together” mindset works, but is rarely sustainable without fences. In the end, it’s not so much a community garden as it’s a community garden within a gated community.

It’s a real privilege to collaborate in a positive, supportive, and abundant environment…and this especially hits home when you’re not allowed past the gate. I don’t see the Lone Ranger waiting by the gate to be let in. He will find his own way to contribute positively in the world beyond the gate.

Experience Architects vs. Film Directors

In response to the internet, brand expanded from logo, color, and slogan to all the ways in which every stakeholder experiences the company and its services/products. Almost all aspects of a company are now consumer facing or can be exposed quite easily to the public. Ethics and morality aside, integrity is a pressing pragmatic reality for those companies who want to grow and keep their customers.

Enter the Experience Architect. I know, this sounds like another example of novelty job titles, or worse, job title bloat. But this title, or better, this role is crucial in consumer facing companies. Put simply, experience is the 4D version of the brand, and architect is someone who designs and guides a plan. Guide is the right word because total control is unrealistic.

Film direction shares much in common with experience design and architecture save for one critical aspect, total control. Film directors (a.k.a mega control freaks) have total control over what the audience sees and feels. This total control allows the director to utilize deception, theatrics, and facades to create a sense of reality. There is no such thing as total control over the experience for the brand.

Incidentally, this may explain my growing enjoyment for older movies, especially spaghetti westerns (think Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.) I appreciate these films especially from a production and direction stand point. Stylistically, they are gritty and simple. But I love discovering the artifacts of production that subtly confess the deception. As film technology has developed so has the ability of film directors to control the experience. The inverse is true for companies trying to control the brand experience. As internet technology has developed so has the ability of consumers to control their experience.

What can your company control? Your company can control the creation a company that is coherent, cohesive, and clear. You can design and build a company that has integrity in every dimension. What can’t you control? Your customers will discover every inconsistency and share it with the world. So in terms of brand, let’s abandon the idea of total control and embrace architecture as the more powerful and appropriate concept for companies.