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The Disney Stroller Couple

It was going to be a long day.

One of the great advantages of living an hour from the Disney World parks is day-trips. Typically we won’t have access to the best attractions, but we’ll have access to many good ones. Plus, seven day-trips over seven weekends is different from a seven-day trip during the week. That’s just basic Alchemy.

Before we moved to Florida, we lived in Ohio and scheduled annual visits. On those trips we had to ‘get our money’s worth’. Tickets might be one-hundred dollars per day per person. Hotel rooms can cost a few hundred dollars too. We bought two ice-cream sandwiches during our last trip and those were twelve dollars.

Flying to Florida and doing Disney costs a lot of money, requires a lot of planning, and introduces some unexpected stress. Keep in mind, this is all a vacation. On our last trip we heard this exchange as a man tried to fold a stroller so he could board a tram.

Him: “This thing is so hard to fold because of all the stuff under here.”

Her: “Welcome to being a dad.”

I felt the frustration like the Florida sun.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a few fantastic rides, some nice animal viewing areas, and a few of our favorite shows: A Great Bird Adventure, Finding Nemo, and Festival of the Lion King.

At the big finish of Festival of the Lion King, performers choose children from the audience to take a lap around the stage. One girl got to shake hands with Timon, the singing meerkat. If someone can smile with their entire body she did. It was magical.

Many people believe that Disney’s advantage is their IP—but it’s not their only one. Disney magic is an advantage too. These moments for guests don’t happen because of a character but because of a person.

When I walk around Galaxy’s Edge it’s neat—but when you watch Storm Troopers hassel guests it’s great.

If the stroller couple had a magical moment, they’ll be back. Guaranteed. They’ll look back on the trip, and it won’t have been a long day, but a great one.

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Collaboration on Optimal Designs

One important thing Rory Sutherland’s book Alchemy did was remind people about the importance of subjectivity. In her talk, Balancing Order and Chaos in UX, Katie Dill (Lyft, Airbnb) talks about how Virgin Atlantic made people feel different even though their seats are the same size and material.

Mohnish Pabrai said something similar about Southwest, “I go on a Southwest aircraft and I’m in coach and I usually find I’m happy. I’m in a happier state of mind in coach in Southwest versus business in American. Why is that? I don’t know.”

On the easy metrics, Pabrai is getting less value. But he’s happier. There’s hidden metrics at play.

Companies like Virgin and Southwest or Disney, Dill explains, have an advantage because they own the experience. For marketplaces, like Lyft and Airbnb, Dill has advice on what a business operator can do to create the same perceived value advantage as “full stack” companies.

  1. Zoom out, “have a perspective on what you are trying to deliver, it’s not just one moment.”
  2. Look out, “where can the shit hit the fan and where can we solve for it prior?”
  3. Set the stage, “use guardrails.”
  4. Don’t overstep and smother the user’s quirks.
  5. Open up, “the community is the key.”

Good design (and its rewards) aren’t about the finished style but the production style. Design is about collaboration. Dan Lockton said, “When people feel they are being influenced in a way that doesn’t match their understanding of the situation they will rebel.”

The best designs serve users. The best designs pave desire paths.

We focus on design because of the potential upside. In his talks on The Hungry Brain, Stephan J. Guyenet brings up the optimal foraging equation.

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That same approach works for design. The cost for a good design is relatively low and the gained value—especially because all value is perceived value—is relatively high.

Good design is why Pabrai likes Southwest, even though the seats are smaller. Good design is often hard to measure but the results show there’s something there.