In our recent article, Are You Ready for the Next Evolution, we first introduced Bigger. Better. Faster. (BBF). In that article, we delivered an inspirational call to action and provided some implementable examples of changes zoos, aquariums museums and your institution can make to enhance your relevance in this ever-changing world. Given the strong, positive response we received to those concepts, we’ve decided to launch the BBF Chronicles. In this second installment, we will dive a little deeper and explain exactly what Bigger. Better. Faster. looks like and why we believe it is a way of thinking leaders should embrace.
BBF is a risk-taking, impact-making, soul-stirring, mind-whirring philosophy that encourages bold leadership to:
- Develop inspired and exciting holistic experiences that engage all visitors at every level.
- Create a culture that encourages Board and staff to embrace the unknown, learn from mistakes and entertain the fantastic.
- Invest thoughtful energy in crafting the stories that connect experiences to your organization’s mission and inspire action.
- Utilize technology to transform and enliven customer interactions.
Now, let’s break that down.
To quote Peter Drucker: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Bigger. Better. Faster. provides a framework to do just that.
Bigger represents a fundamental, comprehensive commitment to making a greater impact that effects noticeable changes in behavior. Growing your collection, expanding your physical space or broadening your mission can help you become larger. However, these options do not necessarily get at the heart of what Bigger is really about unless they also create measurable change.
Reflections of your Bigger initiatives could include:
- Growth in donations to your conservation fund as visitors are moved by the stories they hear through keeper talks or by their personal encounters with animals.
- An increase in visitor stay time and satisfaction as guests participate in more dynamic, interactive experiences.
- A burgeoning reputation among fellow institutions as the standard-bearer for innovation, excellence and next-generation experiences within the industry.
- The establishment of a groundbreaking partnership with an environmental or conservation institution that results in the largest-ever community participation in a locally based conservation initiative.
- An exponential increase in community outreach and impact through hands-on conservation education programming for school children.
Better takes the guest experience to the next level with higher-quality products through creative attention and careful thought to the development of a stronger brand. Of course, the key first step to Better is to work with your Board and staff to define your brand and clearly articulate your vision by answering the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What are your impactful experiences?
- Why are you important?
- What do you want to say to the world?
For most nonprofit institutions these days, zoos and aquariums included, a strong brand is very much reliant on effective and compelling storytelling delivered within a holistic approach. People want to connect their in-person experience with a meaningful narrative—even as they peruse the website or buy their tickets in advance of their visit. And it is the organization’s responsibility—and opportunity—to foster that excitement by crafting the story, weaving it throughout the experience, enlivening it with personal encounters and providing ways for the visitor to actively participate in it.
With consistent messaging, a captivating narrative and a call to action, an organization can create an overarching and truly meaningful guest experience that transcends the in-person visit, makes a lasting impact and advances the institution’s mission at the same time.
Faster embodies a proactive spirit, anticipating what’s next and meeting a demand before the visitor even realizes it’s a possibility. Technology—using apps to streamline food and ticket ordering or to supplement a pre- or post-Zoo visit with fun, engaging “sustainability hero” games—undoubtedly plays a huge role in Faster. Faster involves being nimble, embracing change, and taking informed, calculated risks to provide guests with something new and different before it’s available anywhere else.
To be Faster, leadership must be comfortable taking the first steps—being alone out front with something that has not yet been proven, where the risks are real, but the potential is vast. It may be necessary to educate the Board and convince them that it is worth taking a risk to pursue more dynamic and innovative guest and animal experiences while promoting the larger conservation message. In the end, Faster can also be smarter; taking a proactive lead, rather than playing catch up, often proves much less costly in terms of time, money and stress than reactionary crisis management.
At its core, the BBF philosophy encourages you to choose your own adventure. It pushes you to decide how you want to evolve and puts in your own hands the awesome power and responsibility to determine your destiny, to decide for yourself what your impact will be moving forward. The choice is yours to make.
The team at Schultz & Williams believes that there is no time like the present to realize your organization’s dreams for the future through a BBF mindset. However, you don’t have to go it alone. We invite you to join us in answering the call to action. Let’s move forward together inspired by the vast possibilities before us.