Why Stating Your Principles Matters
When you bring someone on board to work on an existing project it’s very important they get an understanding of the project: the mission, the tools, the tone, what it is and what it is not. Without this clarity new people will use a combination of guesses and assumptions influenced by past experiences to focus their energy and work.
The chances of them guessing right is very low and the chances of creating friction between the new and existing team members is extremely high. The new person wants to be helpful and acts in line with how they see the project. But because they haven’t been educated enough, the choices they make are not in line with the project. The existing team members start wondering things like “What in the world are they thinking?” or “Wow. This were a terrible hire”.
The problem is usually because there wasn’t enough of an onboarding. There’s tactical onboarding: “here is our company mission and values and the tools we use” There’s emotional onboarding: “here’s what we care about and why”. And there’s spiritual onboarding: “this is why doing this work can matter in your life”. This post covers the first of those.
The Evolution of The Eureka Room Principles
Over the years I have spent many hours writing out my thoughts of what the Eureka Room is and is not. A few of these principles were known from the start but most of them were discovered by reflecting on the decisions I’ve made over the years.
Sometimes you can’t verbalize the “why” at the time you make a decision and you may not even be consciously aware that you’ve made any decision at all. But if you look back over time and reflect, motivations can be more apparent.
Here is the most clear statement of the Eureka Room Principles yet. They are in no particular order other than the first being the most important.
The Eureka Room Serves A Mission
The Eureka Room has an important mission and looks to the mission to answer difficult questions and forks in the road.
The mission of The Eureka Room is:
To help people feel the joy of human connection through charming and absurd experiences.
The Eureka Room is Not For Everyone
While everyone is welcome at The Eureka Room, The Eureka Room – by design – is not for everybody.
The Eureka Room believes that great experiences have a disputable purpose (Thank you, Priya Parker for this wonderful term). If there aren’t at least some people that hate what you do then it’s probably too boring to attract people who love what you do. (“If everyone is your customer, then no one is your customer”.)
The Eureka Room knows that just a small percentage of people will love The Eureka Room. The Eureka Room only serves those people. It aims to attract only those people and at the same time to actively discourage all others from visiting.
The Eureka Room is Only For Grownups
The Eureka Room is designed for adults to feel the special joy of human connection that only adults have when experiencing an absurd and charming experience together. To be able to deliver those types of experiences for all visitors, the Eureka Room is ages 16 and up.
Being “only for grownups” doesn’t mean that it has “adult content”. In fact, most if not all of it is “G-rated”. It also should be noted that “only for grownups” is not explicitly stated in the mission and this principle might change in the future.
The Eureka Room Doesn’t Try To Be “Weird”
The Eureka Room understands that the language used by ideal visitors to describe The Eureka Room often includes the word “weird”.
The Eureka Room believes the word “weird” is not a classification or style but instead a judgment. The judgement should be left to the visitor.
The Eureka Room’s is trying to be absurd and charming and novel and engaging and fun. It’s not trying to be “weird”.
In most cases, The Eureka Room shies away from using the word “weird” to talk about itself, both for fear of becoming a caricature of “weird” and because it believes that it is up to the visitor to make the judgment.
The Eureka Room focuses on making great, absurd and charming experiences. The Eureka Room doesn’t care what it is called as long as the visitor is very glad they visited.
The Eureka Room Is About Human Interaction
The Eureka Room is best for people who like to participate and interact with other human beings.
This is one of the distinctions between The Eureka Room and most other immersive experiences.
Many of the current “immersive” experiences in the world are about witnessing amazing creations. (And there are many mind-blowing creations out there now that The Eureka Room recommends you go experience!)
The soul of The Eureka Room, however, has nothing to do with lights, sound, music, props, technology, actors, or the creative content.
The Eureka Room exists not for the visitor to feel joy by bearing witness to a creation, but instead to feel the joy of taking action with other people. The creation’s role in The Eureka Room is merely to be a catalyst, guide, and magnifier.
Safety Is The Primary Concern Of The Eureka Room
The Eureka Room is always concerned for the physical safety of its visitors. The room must be physically safe, both in structure and in the sound, lights, and other technologies in the room.
The Eureka Room is always concerned about the psychological safety of its visitors. The programs may still be challenging but they shouldn’t cause any lasting negative effect on visitors.
The Eureka Room Does Not Feel Completely Safe
Though The Eureka Room is made to be safe it is not made to feel completely safe. The Eureka Room often purposely attempts to generate feelings of uneasiness, awkwardness, or apprehension in its visitors. Carefully designed experiences that integrate these feelings can create better emotional dynamics, surprises, and energy.
The Eureka Room is less like an entertaining fun house and more like a slightly risky adventure.
The Eureka Room Respects The Visitors
Trust. The Eureka Room does not abuse the trust of visitors and “make them do stuff” for our own enjoyment or the feeling of exercising power. We only invite them to do things we believe will bring them enjoyment.
Status and Vulnerability. We do not “mess with” the visitors by making them feel scared, uneasy, bad-anxious, threatened, etc. Visitors should never feel like we are taking status over them. There might be some programs that ask a lot from them and are awkward or challenging, but visitors should clearly understand they always have the final say.
Visitors must feel visiting The Eureka Room was worth it. They must get their money’s worth and their time’s worth.
All emotional asks must have a payoff that is worth it to the visitor. On a program level, if we ask something of the participants (eg, to take a risk, feel discomfort, be bored, put up with being confused, to be singled out), we must give them something in return that they will value even more.
The Eureka Room Has A Specific Design Motif
The term “immersive”, as relatively new as it is, already comes with some connotations and assumptions. To make sure there is a clear understanding here is a more pointed list of which motifs are used and which are not.
The Eureka Room is not the story of a parallel universe, aliens, dystopia, or other related sci-fi manifestations.
The Eureka Room is not a trippy psychedelic experience.
The Eureka Room does not aim to disorient the visitors via glitch, strobes, or erraticness.
The Eureka Room is colorful and beautiful.
The Eureka Room is a mix of clean lines to show it can be serious and professional and hand drawn sketches to show that it can be real and personable.
The Eureka Room embraces many elements of the natural world.
The Eureka Room makes use of darkness in the way that musicians make use of silence.
The Eureka Room Uses Feelings-First Design
The Eureka Room is not about story. The Eureka Room believes that stories are the delivery truck, not the boxes inside the truck. The boxes are moments.
The Eureka Room is not about moments. If the delivery truck is the story, and the boxes are moments, then what’s inside the boxes are feelings.
The Eureka Room is about feelings. Each Eureka Room program starts with the question: “What are the feelings we want delivered?” From there, we work back to what packaging is needed and then back again to which truck is needed.
The Eureka Room’s Main Tool Is Play
Play is the most common tool in The Eureka Room’s toolbox. It is not “feel like a kid again” play. The Eureka Room creates play that leverages the more complex understandings and emotional capacities that only adults have.
The Eureka Room Uses Levity
The Eureka Room uses humor and levity to ease awkwardness, tension, and contribute to play. Juxtaposing seriousness and playfulness helps create dynamics in energy, emotion, and expectation.
The Eureka Room Believes Done Is Better Than Perfect
The Eureka Room believes perfection of product or service is important for a few important companies in this world, but for everyone else perfectionism just a fearful excuse to procrastinate.
The world needs The Eureka Room and doesn’t have time to wait on it to be perfect.
The Eureka Room Creates Opportunity For Challenge And Growth
The Eureka Room exists to expand realities and comfort zones so that people can better connect with one another. You can’t expand a comfort zone without reaching into what is not comfortable.
The Eureka Room believes that absurdity is a great vehicle to travel into the unknown, especially when there are others on the same bus.
The Eureka Room believes it needs a better metaphor than the one just stated.
The Eureka Room Values Surprise
The Eureka Room creates delightful surprises for visitors and times them at the best moments possible.
The Eureka Room Involves Fans In The Creation of New Experiences
The Eureka Room programs are developed with ideal visitors through testing and feedback using the Design Thinking process.
The Eureka Room Knows That Tools Are Just Tools
The Eureka Room does not let tools lead the design.
The Eureka Room does not let itself get distracted with shiny new things.
The Eureka Room is not here to serve tools, it is here to serve its mission.
The Eureka Room Does Not Confuse “fun to make” With “fun to experience”.
The Eureka Room knows that the enjoyment of creating a thing has very little correlation with whether or not someone else will enjoy experiencing it. The Eureka Room maintains tight vigilance for this easily-manifested conflation.
The Eureka Room Does Not Create Competition Between Visitors
The Eureka Room is a collaborative or parallel experience, not a competitive one.
Some programs might have the guise of competitiveness, but no visitor should feel that losing or winning matters.