The so-called sub-prime crisis of 2008 was the end result of a self-destructing chain of counterproductive inducements and a commitment to get rich quick, at any cost to others. The mortgage lender would try to find anyone willing to buy a ridiculously big house, with a ridiculously low down payment, a very low interest rate, and low payments that the borrower could afford . . . for a while. The narrative would go more or less as follows: “What have you got to lose? You move into this beautiful new house with your family. Don’t you think you owe it to them? Don’t you think they deserve it? Within 12 months, the house will have gone up at least 10% in value—and I am being very conservative right now, just to be on the safe side. And it will keep going up. There is such demand out there. No way is this ending soon. You can then borrow on the value of the house, sell it to cash in, whatever.”
Creating customer experiences requires scripting, choreographing, and orchestrating customer moments of truth that turn out as planned. The theatrical metaphor is intentional. It takes much perceptive thinking about the effects that various sequences of actions, images, or sound effects will have on viewers to deliver the punch that a movie such as The Godfather does. In “The Making of the Godfather” (The Godfather movie featurette) Francis Ford Coppola provides a couple of insightful glimpses on the role and challenges facing those who want to create memorable experiences. Since the Godfather saga (three movies) spans 18 years, Coppola was asked what he thought was the essence of his role in the making of the series. His answer: “I own the emotions of the Corleone family.”. The central role of the director is to understand the feelings of the characters, and thus predict how they would react under various circumstances. Ultimately, an experience, —any experience, —is about emotions. The director must have the sensitivity to get under the skin of the participants, and understand what’s required to induce the desired reaction. In other words, he must be the CEO of the experience, that is, the Chief Emotion Owner.
On April 24, 1916, the James Caird left Elephant Island near the South Pole with a crew of six, leaving the remaining 22 members of the British expedition stranded on the island waiting for the relief that the Caird would hopefully send back, when it reached the Norwegian whaling station on South Georgia Island, some 1300 kilometers away. The boat was skippered by E. H. Shackleton, who had organized and led the expedition that set out to perform the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. Facing a particularly harsh winter, their ship, the Endurance, had been caught in the ice pack that had formed, and as Shackleton put it, “what the ice gets, the ice does not surrender.” In the middle of the Antarctic winter, the boat had indeed been crushed by the ice, leaving the crew stranded on the ice pack, hundreds of miles from the nearest land.
The Airbus A320-214, under Captain Chesley Sullenberger, was flown by first officer Jeffrey Skiles when the flight, just two minutes after taking off from LaGuardia Airport, hit a flock of Canada geese, at 3:27 PM on January 15, 2009. The aircraft, headed for Charlotte, North Carolina, with 155 people on board, was hit in the windshield, and both engines swallowed one or two birds and simultaneously shut off. The two very experienced pilots were flying together for the first time. They had become an operational team while going through the pre-takeoff checklist, allowing them to verify the interoperability of their skill sets and their ability to function as a team at the command of their aircraft. They kept their cool as they peered through the blood-stained windshield in the suddenly frighteningly silent cockpit.
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