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culture: a cem "five force" member

I've done a fair amount of consulting, teaching, and even experience management design for my own bosses, focusing on the concept of "mythos". Mythos is a way of looking at the world as playing out a story that defines what is sacred and profane, and looking for where energy exists (or can be created) in people's perceptions. I know, sounds abstract, but I've got a framework that makes it really easy to be creative in this realm.

Another area I work in is "global experience management". You might think this is just experience design and management in locations connected by airports, itineraries and generic hotels. Ah, but no. The reason is that cultures vary in the ways they (explicitly and implicitly):

- interpret signs (red=lucky in China, red=danger in the US)

- define and empower symbols (cute little girls are favored in Japan, sexy girls in the US)

- value events and interactions (service failure generates a "face" issue in Asia, a money issue in the West)

All of which means, of course, that the content of experiences designed by a CEM professional needs to be culturally specific.

Ah, yes ... but.

A key observation made by my heroes, Durkheim, Eliade, and Lévi-Strauss (who just passed away) relates to the similarities in the formal structures myth takes on across cultures. Think Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This issue of mythos similarity in the context of cultural differences is a source of power in this force of customer experience management. (Keep an eye out for my video series on my framework for the five forces of CEM.)

What that means for high-level experience management and branding is that the cultural variability in the items I bulleted above may nevertheless rest with a formal structure that serves a common purpose. I mention this merely as an introduction to the example of the Barbie Doll that launches this fantastic TED talk. (I love TED.)


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