"omg. i've totally been wasting my potential at work. i could be stealth disco-ing."
"Stealth disco" was born in March at Cramer-Krasselt, a Chicago advertising agency. The idea: Sneak up on a colleague, boogie without being noticed, film the act, then email your colleague the footage. In September, copywriter Bill Hollister posted the firm's stealths at www.stealthdisco.com. Within weeks, there were tens of thousands of references on the Web. Why? Simply, "it's funny," says Hollister.
"I just did my first stealth disco."
For 48 caffeine-fueled hours in late September, 81 professionals took to New York's streets to experience stuff. All sorts of stuff. Marketers from Starbucks and Lego joined library and hospital directors to sniff, listen, and play.
This was thinkAbout, the sixth annual gathering produced by Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore, cofounders of Strategic Horizons LLP. When it comes to experience, Pine and Gilmore literally wrote the book: The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater and Every Business a Stage (Harvard Business School Press, 1999). In the experience economy, they preach, cost or quality alone doesn't cut it. Today, people demand experience.
ThinkAbout turns the traditional conference model on its head. Rather than locking attendees inside a hotel ballroom, Pine and Gilmore used Times Square as their playground, creating a mood somewhere between stock-exchange trading floor and kindergarten classroom.
Participants sporting wireless earpieces tested easyInternetcafé, Toys "R" Us, and other stores. In Qiora, Mark Scott, a principal at Starizon Inc., was seduced by the Zen-like environment and bought a $55 bottle of lotion for his wife. "There's no brochure trying to tell you what they are; they just are," he observed. Ah . . . insight! "It's that authenticity that doesn't make you just a customer for a day but a customer for life," explained Gilmore. He and Pine argue that "rendering authenticity" will prove a defining hallmark of great brands over the next 20 years.
The next morning, debate erupted. "I think we need to begin focusing on the experience the customer wants rather than on the experience we want to push on the customer," said Lorna Goulden of Philips Design. "But customers don't know what experience they want until you give it to them," countered Manfred Abraham, a client services director from a London branding agency.
The room filled with questions. "We want to see lightbulbs go on. We want to see new ideas generate," Pine said, satisfied. "Part of this is about putting people in a place that's not comfortable." So it was: ThinkAbout adjourned to the streets, to the realm of discomfort. Danielle Sacks
Why read a book when you can rent the movie? And why go to B-school when you can, well, watch a B movie? With input from readers on the FC Now Weblog, Fast Company presents the top 10 best performances of all time by leaders on the silver screen.
1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Leader Jefferson Smith (James Stewart)
Lesson "There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties."
2. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Leader Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa)
Lesson "Be happy in your work."
3. Office Space (1999)
Leader Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston)
Lesson "Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms, and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements."
4. Patton (1970)
Leader General George Smith Patton Jr. (George C. Scott)
Lesson "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."
5. Hoosiers (1986)
Leader Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman)
Lesson "If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game. In my book, we're gonna be winners."
6. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Leader Lucas (Luke) Jackson (Paul Newman)
Lesson "I'm just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that." "Nah. Calling it your job don't make it right, boss."
7. The Godfather: Part III (1990)
Leader Don Michael Corleone (Al Pacino)
Lesson "Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment."
8. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Leader Ricky Roma (Al Pacino)
Lesson "What you're hired for is to help us . . . to help us . . . to help men who are going out there to try to earn a living."
9. Apollo 13 (1995)
Leader Gene Kranz (Ed Harris)
Lesson "Let's work the problem, people. Let's not make things worse by guessing."
10. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Leader Yoda (Frank Oz)
Lesson "Do or do not. There is no try."
A version of this article appeared in the December 2003 issue of Fast Company magazine.