Season 2 – Episode 02

Experience Design to
Build Wonder at Work

with Chip Heath & Chris Flink

Artwork by Ionut Caras

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The #2 hotel in Los Angeles cannot compete with the Hyatts or the Hiltons of the world when it comes to expensive amenities. What makes the Magic Castle special is the staff’s ability to design surprising experiences, like a red phone by the pool coined Popsicle Hotline. By breaking the script, the Magic Castle inspires delight in their guests—and consistently ranks higher than high-end, luxury hotels in the city.

How can we follow the lead of the Magic Castle and create a workplace of wonder? How do we design for extraordinary moments with our colleagues and customers?

Today, Jeffrey explores workplace wonder with Chris Flink, Executive Director of the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco, and Chip Heath, the Thrive Foundation for Youth Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Stanford Graduate School of Business and co-author of The Power of Moments. Chip and Chris explain how designing surprising moments for customers can give you a competitive advantage and why it’s beneficial to think beyond simply fixing problems to the architecting of positive experiences. Chip describes why it’s in your best interest to focus on elevating mostly satisfied customers to truly delighted ones, and Chris shares the power of physical experiences to captivate people in a deeply personal way. Listen in for insight around designing for positive, extraordinary experiences that facilitate connection and learn how to surprise yourself, your colleagues and your customers with the exchange of wonder.

Our Guests

Chip Heath

Chip Heath is a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, teaching courses on business strategy and organizations. He is the co-author (along with his brother, Dan) of four books. Their latest book (an instant New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller) The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact was published in the fall of 2017. Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work was published in spring of 2013 and debuted at #1 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list and #2 on the New York Times. Their 2010 book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, hit #1 on both bestseller lists. Their first book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, spent two years on the Business Week bestseller list and was an Amazon Top 10 Business Book for both editors and readers. Their books have been translated into over 30 languages including Thai, Arabic, and Lithuanian. Chip has consulted with clients ranging from Google and Gap to The Nature Conservancy and the American Heart Association. His parents are just happy that their sons are playing well together.

» Heath Brothers
» Stanford Social Innovation Review

Chris Flink

Chris Flink has always found the Exploratorium phenomenally inspiring. He was honored to become its Executive Director in the summer of 2016 and is thrilled to be leading the innovative institution into its next half-century. Chris is responsible for expanding the institution’s impact by amplifying our renowned visitor experience, broadening the reach of our world-class teacher professional development programs, increasing our worldwide influence through Global Studios, and leading the Exploratorium to reimagine what it means to be a science center in the twenty-first century. He brings more than twenty years’ experience spanning creative leadership, engineering, design of hands-on educational experiences, and business. Chris was a partner at IDEO for nineteen years and a founding faculty member of Stanford University’s, where he remains a consulting associate professor. He has presented at TEDx and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Chris holds a BS in Engineering/Product Design from Stanford University and an MS in Management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has served on the boards of Fortune 500 companies and lived in a vibrant undergraduate dorm (remarkably, at the same time). Chris has two extraordinary young daughters from whom he learns the most important things.

» Exploratorium

Key Takeaways

[7:47] Young Chip and Chris at their best

  • Chip with typewriter (passages from nature books)
  • Chris building forts and booby traps out of garbage

[10:41] What makes those boyhood moments memorable

  • Attempt to make sense of world
  • Agency to affect own experience

[13:39] How Chris got into the area of experience design

  • Study product design at Stanford, work at IDEO
  • Integrate business disciplines in design process
  • Foster creative mindset in business collaboration

[17:34] How Chip came to explore experience architecture

  • Discuss what makes defining moment
  • Family as focus group (i.e.: take idea on road)
  • Iteration as integral part of design process

[23:12] Why we should consider experience design

  • Mind geared to fix problems vs. create potential
  • Magic Castle #2 hotel in LA (e.g.: Popsicle Hotline)
  • Opportunities to inspire, bring creative energy

[36:59] The concept of ‘breaking the script’

  • Strategic surprise that captures attention
  • Design to widen eyes, open to message

[41:18] Chip and Chris’ response to resistance

  • Build in elevation, pride, insight and connection
  • You ARE designing experiences (add agency)

[46:49] The value of face-to-face, analog experiences

  • Physical experiences captivate in personal way
  • Power in tangible experience translates to retail

[49:42] How to design experiences for your organization

  • Museum staff conceived of Pi Day on 3/14
  • Playful community with common mission

[59:23] The social dimension of wonder

  • Break script with uncommon conversation
  • ‘45 minutes away from close friendship’
  • Create context for experience to unfold
  • Connection through transformative learning

[1:04:44] What Chip and Chris are pursuing in the next year

  • Must be inspired to be inspirational
  • Work with social entrepreneurs

Caras Ionut

Caras Ionut was born in Romania in the late 70s and is currently devoted to photography. Ionut loves the things that happen around so he always has a camera to capture moments, and then turn them into dreams and positive images of what he wants. We leave you to judge for yourself and be surprised with this wonderful work.

Are you a Wonder Designer?

We’re inviting you to share with our community of listeners how you are a wonder designer this season.

​​​​​​​It’s easy and takes just 3 minutes of your time:

In 15-30 seconds or less, state your name, where you live, and your url if you wish, and state in 1-3 sentences one way you are a Wonder Designer.
Make it personal and personable. Not a pitch. Not a teaching.

For example, “Hi, Jeffrey and Tracking Wonder. My name is Abigail Madley. I live in Towanka, Washington, and you can find me online at One way I am a wonder designer is by shaping educational experiences for elders that bring them more joy and happiness in assisted living.”
“I am a wonder designer because everyday I am fostering more connection with strangers in the city where I live.”
“I am a wonder designer because I am encouraging more open listening at the startup where I work.”
“One way I am a wonder designer these days is by having my three children sing for their breakfast. It makes a hectic morning pretty funny.”​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​Listen back to your submission, and when you are happy with it, click send!

​​​​​​​Your response could end up on the Tracking Wonder Podcast this season.

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Each week brings you in-depth conversations with leaders, stories from change-makers, and provocative ideas from artists and scientists – all designed to inspire you to shape your best work with more possibility, impact, and – yes – wonder.