Thank you so much for taking a journey through the Sequence Discovery process over the last few weeks. First, we talked about what Discovery is and why we do it, and then we discussed how we actually go about the Discovery process.
Today’s third installment is about how we put the findings from the Discovery process into action for our clients’ projects. Now is when we synthesize and get fully inspired by the main points of emphasis from Discovery. This all leads to us presenting tangible ideas for feedback, refining and iterating on those ideas, and finally to executing the approved concepts - thus creating the experience… TA DA!
So, after undertaking the Discovery process and having our clients corroborate our findings, we move on to the ideation phase. This part challenges us to balance blue sky thinking and working within logical parameters. It’s like writing on lined paper; structured, but anything is still possible. Of course in addition to what the client has defined in Discovery, other realities have to be kept in mind as well. We’re on earth (as of yet - virtual experiences notwithstanding!) so there is gravity, we have a budget, venues have rules & regulations, platforms have user restrictions, there are set rigging points (or sometimes there are not rigging points at all!), we have a finite load-in and load-out window, etc. Even so, we always want to think BIG and bold to start. We often call this “idea spaghetti” - aka we throw a lot of noodles up and see what sticks.
Having the right people at the table on our side is key here too - just like during client Discovery! Ideation is typically also led by the strategy arm of the SEQ Creative team, but we ensure that our execution arm is there too (they’ll be fully taking the baton shortly!), as well as key players from the wider event team. Everyone here must have been present for Discovery, or this won’t be as productive. We want the process of ideating to benefit from everyone’s unique points of view, but also to work within the same set of base information.
In many cases, we need to perform some more targeted research coming out of Discovery and before heading into ideation. This can range from exploring clients’ past events (aka light cyber stalking), digging more into personas or attendee demographics, research on specific technologies or other client verticals or specific service offerings,and reviewing key elements within the many documents and materials we have likely collected during Discovery. All of this information is disseminated to the team gathering for ideation.
We always start internally with a live ideation meeting and a clear agenda. Any existing ideas or must-haves can be addressed initially in our shared notes or internal preparation communication. We like to allow as much time for this conversation as needed, typically starting with a 2-hour window so it’s not rushed. Additional time can be added as needed. This is less about yaying or naying any ideas in real time, but seeing what resonates with the group and allowing us to riff off of each other organically. The germ of an incredible idea can come from anywhere (sometimes the best ideas come from our interns, we’re open to all!) but where it goes and how it develops during this meeting can be pure event magic.
Through Discovery, we unearth the information we need to create successful experiences for our clients. We spill all the tea so that we can be fully on our client’s team and (in a non-creepy way) in their heads.
Coming out of ideation meetings, we see what’s floated to the top and start to formalize those ideas for client feedback. We have to give each idea a shape and make it tangible for the client to understand it. We have found it’s best to put just the right amount of information in front of the client to get their imagination jumpstarted. Over the years, we’ve honed a document we now call the Event Design Deck (aka, the EDD). We typically present 3 versions of this comprehensive visual rundown of the event. Round 1 is this first deliverable - again, what we call the “Spaghetti phase” where ideas are loose but explainable. Imagery in round 1 is inspirational, not yet literal. Any specifics are presented, where able. We want to assess if the client connects to the idea and is interested to learn more in Round 2. (More on the EDD itself - and perhaps some real examples too - in a future blog!)
Assessing & Incorporating Feedback
We always aim to review Round 1 of the EDD live with clients to ensure that all information is conveyed accurately, and any questions answered in real time so that the ideas all land as intended. Typically clients will need some time to absorb before giving their detailed feedback. We’ll reiterate, it’s imperative than anyone being asked to give feedback on the EDD and who has the authority to yay or nay has been involved with the Discovery process. We bolded it again for emphasis ;) Once we have the client’s feedback, we take the next steps to update, streamline, put some ideas to the side, and potentially ideate some more.
Ideation Continues… While the Production Phase Begins (Aka, the Baton Relay)
Now we set out to create Round 2 of the EDD… this is where the execution arm of the Creative team starts to get more involved, as well as all the members of the event team in logistics and technical. The strategy team starts to take some steps back, but stays in the mix until this round is completed (we visualize this as the moment as a relay race - the runner in back reaches out with the baton while the other, starting the run at the same pace, reaches back to receive it).
As you can imagine, the following is a dramatically simplified rundown of the remaining event design and production process as it pertains specifically to SEQ Discovery. We couldn’t possibly encompass everything that happens within SEQ event design & production in a single blog! Sometimes this road is days long, weeks long, months long… but we want you to see how we take our findings from Discovery all the way through to the final experience.
We finalize event thematics, start to mock-up what things will look like, and firm up how they will be executed. We start to speak to the other vital details: decor, asset needs, guest experience and flow and all other elements creating a full and cohesive experience. And of course, we need to provide more pricing information so clients can make informed decisions about what to keep and what to cut before Round 3 of the EDD (typically, the final round).
Before and after each round, we ask ourselves these questions (and many more!):
- Do these ideas, concepts or other elements point back to the goals / priorities / early call-outs from Discovery?
- Has the client’s feedback been taken into consideration?
- Have we assessed the impact and the guest experience?
- Are we measuring what we need to measure in terms of success and results?
- Has anything changed fundamentally that we need to factor in?
Production, in a Nutshell
And then… (major oversimplification alert!) We present the Round 3 of the EDD which is essentially the entire final experience on “paper”. Then, we do ALL.THE.THINGS. We dot the i’s and cross the t’s. The experience happens - we execute, we observe, we adjust if able. And when it’s all said and done, we revisit the journey and check in with ourselves and the client. How’d we do?! Did the end result reflect what we learned and agreed up in Discovery? Did we deliver a creative solution which embodied the client’s definition of success? Why, or why not? And the most important question - how can we do it even better next time?
Thank you so much for joining us on our SEQ Discovery journey! It’s been amazing sharing such an important part about what we do in more detail. We would love to work with you to create a perfectly strategic and creative experience for your brand or organization, so give us a call and we can get the ball rolling on Discovery today!