In an organization that supports knowledge-sharing, you want people to connect with each other and to learn from each other. By using experience design you capture people’s attention through offering something that is different from the normal run of the mill. You want to introduce them to new ideas, provoke conversations, get them to share their experience with others.
Here are a few examples I used during History Week.
Staff were offered a privileged preview of official records. This was prior to the records of a specific year being released to The National Archives. These paper records on display were at least 30 years old and reflected the top stories of the day. What made it different was:
- Those people who wanted to handle the papers were asked to wear white cotton gloves. The very act of putting the gloves on and using them to turn pages was an experience.
- Mrs Thatcher’s diary of daily events was put on display. It showed that she had a daily appointment with Carmen at 7am – that is, Carmen heated hair rollers which is why her hair was always immaculate. This diary entry was a lot more entertaining than names of people long forgotten. We also highlighted meetings with President Ronald Reagan and Mikhael Gorbachev.
- A slide presentation going on in the background highlighted events month by month of the chosen year, and it included the top 10 hits and the top 10 movies of the year. What surprised us all was how much of the music was still played today, and how familiar the movies still were.
- Also on display were a towel and bar of soap. Up until the 1970s upon joining the Civil Service, every civil servant was given a bar of soap and a towel for their own use while at work.
Whitehall is full of history, dating back to Henry VIII. We organised tours of the historic buildings in which we worked, including No 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament. The tours were led by staff for staff. Tickets for all the tours were snapped up instantly because this was such an unusual privilege. Who wouldn’t jump at a chance to have their photograph taken outside No 10 Downing Street?
Show and Tell
To commemorate the centenary of World War One, staff were invited to share stories of their families’ participation in the Great War. There were some great stories, all very different, and several people brought along artefacts and family albums.
We worked with the organisation’s catering supplier to offer dishes that were popular during both World Wars. To complement this, a slide show of photographs from both World Wars was on in the background.