The word magic takes me down memory lane, watching magic shows as a child was a roller coaster of delight, curiosity, wonderment, surprise and intrigue -- all rolled into one. For me, magic is a personal experience to cherish and the kid in me was overjoyed to observe its cross over to the professional side -- thanks to Steve Jobs. He is usually known for thinking different, a rebel who grew up in the counter culture of the '60s. But there were moments in his conversations, he retained the kid in him. Word choices are the window to the deep mind, who else would have conjured up the word magic in business context? An evolution of Steve Job's interviews:
- 1985, Playboy interview, on Computers: "It takes these very simple-minded instructions...but executes them at a rate of, let's say, 1,000,000 per second. At 1,000,000 per second, the results appear to be magic."
- 1996 PBS interview, on Product Design: "...every day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these (five thousand) things together a little differently. And it's that process that is the magic."
- 2007 Iphone launch : "And we have invented a new technology called multi-touch, which is phenomenal. It works like magic."
- 2010, Ipad introduction: "We want to kick off 2010 by introducing a truly magical and revolutionary product today."
In retrospect, it all makes sense, a magic show is about entertainment to create amazingly great customer experiences. He envisioned a close relationship between mankind and technology and his products were the conduit for amazing customer experiences. Magic is apt in that sense.
Could there be more magical customer experience moments by thinking differently? I was recently enamored by one at Disney's Magic Kingdom resort.
Magic Kingdom's Dumbo Elephant Ride: Think Different
Few days before summer break for kids, I was riding the elevator and a genial colleague asked- "any summer plans with kids?" "Yes, we are going to Disney's Magic Kingdom in Orlando", I said and then added with a lot of enthusiasm, "It is our first time". Magic Kingdom holds a special place - I had heard about it when I was a kid and now a palpable excitement that I am visiting with my kids. My colleague genuinely responded -" Great for kids, not so for parents -- long lines, hot summer days; make sure you use FastPass Plus". With that, the elevator doors opened and I was left with mixed feelings -- wondering how realistic my enthusiasm was and also piqued my curiosity on how Walt Disney's team is handling the long queue problem.
While enjoying Disney's Magic Kingdom with my family, I was also observing their ride process. Best described like an assembly line -- people join in the queue, move through the queue, enter the ride, enjoy it and finally exit it. Framed that way, the traditional approach to reducing queue wait times, is to find ways to optimize the slow activities in this assembly line.
What I experienced at one of the more popular attraction that has been renovated in the recent years, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, was something very different. Once you entered the queue, my family was given a beeper/pager and led to a mega air conditioned circus tent with a lot of play area, children played and parents relaxed and the buzzer beeped when it was our turn.
In effect, Disney's team had bolted a batch process in the assembly line -- gave the parents a respite from heat with ultra-cool tent, kept the children engaged and safe -- converted the major bottleneck into an amazing customer experience. It was a pretty ingenious solution.
After the ride, when my older daughter asked for an encore, I did not bat an eyelid before reentering the innovative queue area again! I love win-wins especially with kids.
Circling back, there could be umpteen alternative words, the thought of using the word "magic"/"magical" in business setting is amazing, incredible, great, and beautiful - just to borrow a few often repeated words of Steve Jobs. In my words, magic is a brilliant way to bring the kid in us to work -- the kid who enjoyed the amazing childhood charm that magic shows had to offer. More deeply, as I returned from Magic Kingdom, I learnt an unorthodox way to resolve process bottlenecks beyond the traditional text book approach -- using customer needs as magic to address process limitations.
There is something magical about thinking different, cherishing the kid in all of us and creating amazing customer experiences. What do you think? Look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments section.