Solve the Right Problem

I’ve spent a lot of time in and around theaters, most of it behind the scenes. Everything you do is about the experience you want to evoke from the audience.

There’s no point to paint the back of a set.

If the audience can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. You often spend a good bit of time figuring out “sight lines.” Can everyone in the audience see what you want them to see? Not see what you want to conceal?

This is at the heart of learning to be effective. What is the end effect you want to accomplish.

I went to business school long enough ago that Fed Ex was still a relatively new company. We had a case study in our marketing class about the rollout of a new service called the Courier Pak (Yes, this was a long time ago).

Someone in the class thought it would be a clever idea to send a Courier Pak to our marketing professor. It would contain items from earlier case studies. We went to the local Fed Ex office to arrange to send the package and have it delivered during the next day’s class session.

The manager of the local Fed Ex office was a very smart person. Rather than send the package through the Fed Ex system and risk a late delivery, they stored the package in the safe overnight and delivered it personally to class the next day. We got our joke and Fed Ex protected its image. Actually sending the package was an unnecessary risk.

The first step is always to work out what the problem actually is.