Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Where The Right Answer Is a Question

Hats off to the Exploratorium in San Francisco. This exactly captures the reaction it is striving to evoke from its visitors, young and old alike.

The Exploratorium goes where flat-footed edu-tainment cannot tread. It's a collection of brilliantly crafted exhibits designed not just to educate but to spark a sense of wonder and stir curiosity within. Each display has been purposely made to compel its audience to physically interact with it, to engage in the sort of playful experimentation that yields rewarding results and engages the participant in a willing game of detective work to figure out what's going on.

As the street banner suggests, it is particularly well suited for helping youngsters learn. The setting encourages them to be absolutely fearless in their pursuit of knowledge. Any self-consciousness they might have about the limits of what they know, or of making mistakes or worst of all failing - the collection of forces that might otherwise hold them back and rob them of an enriching experience - melt instantly away the moment they step inside the Exploratorium.

You could also say that a hallmark of an good account planner is to work in a similar way. We didn't have a child-like capacity for play in mind, we were thinking rather about the role to stimulate further investigation. To deepen the inquiry in a meaningful way that advanced understanding of the challenge at hand, through iterative probing that gets quickly to the heart of the matter.

There are many situations in the communications or consumer behavior worlds in which a question being evoked as a response to a stimulus - or as the effect of an interaction - would be a vast improvement to what it elicits today.

Inspiration to do better, fluttering in the breeze on Gough street above the heads of commuters making their way wearily to work.

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