One day I strolled into the kitchen in our office to get my morning coffee. As I waited for it to pour, I noticed a single picture of someone from what looked like to be their High School yearbook. I stopped for a minute, because the person looked really familiar. After a few seconds it hit me as to who that person was (a copywriter I work with). The whole thing was a nice little deviation from my morning routine.
The next day I strolled into the kitchen and there was another High School photo. This was one from a prom no less. Again I studied the picture as I knew it had to be someone in our office. But I couldn’t figure out who. Another co-worker came up to me and was like “what are you looking at?”. When I said I was trying to figure out who the person in the photo was, they joined me. Before I knew it we had three people studying the photo. Eventually, one of my co-workers figured it out.
A week passes and now the wall is peppered with photos of people from childhood and high school (and pets too). I get my morning coffee and if someone is there in the kitchen with me, chances are we start talking (and laughing about the photos). There is a richness to the discussion—texture you could say. We talk about the hairstyles. The clothes. It immediately bonds me with whomever I am conversing with at the moment. I’ve actually found out more about the people I work with in these informal discussions then I do on a daily project basis. And more importantly, we deviate from our routines and engage eachother as people. Not co-workers.
Several more weeks pass and the wall is full with personal photos. And the informal conversations go on. “Who’s that?” “Oh I know who that is!”, “Look at that tie”, “Oh, you look like a different person!”. And I couldn’t help but notice that what’s going on in my office is what needs to be happening more in marketing. People having genuine conversations and taking interest in each other. In what we do. In who we are and who we used to be (I participataed as well—can you find my photo?).
A spontaneous action, being rewarded by participation.
An action that causes people to not only have conversations—but also take action themselves by tracking down their own photos and pinning them up on the wall. One act sparked a contagious response from others who wanted to be more than mere spectators. They wanted to be a part of it. They didn’t want to be left out of all the fun. Each contribution sparked more contributions and so on.
I track down my co-worker who pinned up that first photo. “What motivated you to do that?” I ask. She replies, “I was curious to see what would happen”.