Thought piece


Experience designer champions the experience architect


The point of the Experience Architect – who may be an owner, founder, the CEO, but can be anybody and everybody – is not to make a managerial virtue out of the ethos or spirit that once gave birth to a good idea, which then became a good business, which then went on to create more good ideas, more good business. Brands, businesses and corporations who mistake policy or strategy (or the way-things-are-done-around-here) for a beautifully designed experience commit the fatal error of mistaking the ordinary for the extraordinary. Case in point: Tesco.

I know it’s easy to knock Tesco, once owner and generator of one in eight of the pounds that passed through our hands, now a giant rabbit transfixed in the headlights of the car it used to drive, but for an example of a conglomerate that dined out on the same meal so often as to become menacingly ordinary, it stands as a perfect case study.

Having pioneered automisation, a digitally-gunned real-shopping experience that made luddites of the competition, Tesco fell in love with its own visual and verbal rhetoric, believing itself to have reached the endpoint of supermarket history. It settled onto its automated laurels, and everybody caught up, and moved past, and turned their own digitally created experiences into something new, something recognisably different. Tesco had not beaten history. It had ignored exactly that which lay at its feet – all the opportunities as presented by its digital pioneering, opportunities that, for an EA, are absolute manna. It just became ordinary.

Which is not to say that there is no such thing as ordinariness in brands, businesses and corporations. Quite the opposite: of course there is. Rather it’s the very opportunity that the ordinary, once identified, affords the EA. As Kelley says time and again, if ever the EA stops the task of shining a light in every corner of the business, asking ‘ordinary or extraordinary’ of everything experienced, then that’s it: it’s ordinary.