The Director and The Experience Architect

We all know a good movie when we see one, and likely, we’ve all experienced the quintessentially American “dinner and a movie” date. Since having children, my husband and I prefer the slightly lesser known perfect date, which we call “breakfast and a movie.” I’m not sure which one of us was the Experience Architect on that one, but it’s a winner!

One thing we always consider when choosing a movie is who is the director. I mean, we are about to inflict double toddlerhood on a grandparent and invest cold, hard cash to have a few small hours to ourselves. It’s imperative to see a good movie, and a good director helps ensure that our experience is as pleasurable as we hope. As I continue reading Tom Kelley’s book The Ten Faces of Innovation, I would like to introduce you to The Director and the Experience Architect. These two personas have pizazz!

The Director is a persona I can see myself adopting from time to time. The Director has the charisma to pull people out of their comfort zone, letting them shine, stepping back from the spotlight in order to see the big picture. In some ways, The Director is one of the more visionary personas. The Director is concerned with ideas, production, chemistry, and completion. Kelley lists five traits of a successful Director. They give center stage to others. They love finding new projects. They rise to tough challenges. They shoot for the moon. And they wield a large toolbox of skills. (p.145)

With these five capabilities, The Director is able to fully accomplish the single-most important task, which is to bring the project to its final goal.

One thing The Director truly excels at is building strong teams. They look beyond the basic skills known to a person to see the latent abilities they have to offer a group. Once a strong team is assembled, the most critical aspect to the project is getting started. The Director, who has taken the time to get to know the team members (and their diverse skills) face to face will have an uncanny ability to propel the group to action, inspire them to push boundaries, and generate momentum. Innovation thrives under strong direction. A good Director persona helps the group brainstorm by setting the stage, offering support, and then letting the team have the leeway to work independently towards group success.

“A good Experience Architect starts with the same raw materials as others, but then mixes in something original and memorable” (p.175).

The Experience Architect persona sets the stage for innovative new experiences. There are many way to do so, such as our adoption of breakfast and a movie instead of dinner and a movie. The main desire of The Experience Architect is to show the power of experience within a product or company.

In recent years, there has been a consumer drive to embrace the journey. The experience of a product draws in consumers differently than the actual need for the product. Little events in life, such as getting ice cream or buying a bottle of flavored water can be orchestrated to offer an experience to the consumer. The Experience Architect is capable of seeing how a one-size fits-all approach does not serve all products and services equally. Consumers are looking for authentic experiences, new and memorable ways to connect to their product. In a world of mass production, consumers want to feel a connection to the products they choose.

The Experience Architect is the one who believes in “the moveable feast.” They “have a talent for finding the experience in everything, even what might otherwise seem to be the most run-of-the-mill products” (p.168). They are creators and defenders of the extra-ordinary.

Together, The Director and the Experience Architect make memorable innovations for both the company and its patrons. When it comes to building teams in your company, be sure to find these personas among your team members.


  1. Joy,

    I really enjoyed this post! I enjoyed reading about the hurdling persona in your last post but I really enjoyed reading about the director persona in this post. I too feel that the director persona is something I find myself relating to from time to time. Building strong teams is something I felt like I always strove towards and was successful in from an age of considering the group of friends I had was my team to now-a-days where the team I surround myself around professionally is carefully constructed.


  2. What a great metaphor for this topic. It really helps you put the importance of these two roles in context. When I was reading a similar chapter in my book it took me back to being a young Cellist in the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra. It was during that time in my life, that i realized the value of the different roles that people play in a group effort. As individuals we all brought something of value the collective, but it was the unification of those individual parts, that created a beautiful harmonious symphony, rather and a cacophony of noise. It was an epiphany I have taken with me though my life. The other lesson I learned at that time was the value of good leadership, and communication between the leaders and the players. I think it is important to look at how the traits of leaders and how they work together can create successful outcomes. From movies to music, simple things that we find enjoyment from can be great examples to turn to and use as metaphors for our own endeavors.

    Ellie McIntosh


  3. Joy,

    I find it intriguing that your book describes different personas that a team should have to be successful. I’ve read some of your past blogs and saw the same trend in those.

    If I had to decide which persona would better describe myself, I would say I would be a “director”. I live for new challenges, and love seeing my friends and family shine. As a front office supervisor, I also work to improve my team every day at the front desk. I build my team up and allow them to take all of the credit from the guests.

    I also love that you chose “breakfast and a movie” and “dinner and a movie” as your twist on the personas the book describes. It allowed me to put together a better picture of what the author is saying.

    Thanks for sharing,


  4. Joy!
    I always truly enjoy reading your thoughtful reflections and it makes me reflect on my own writing and presentation and want to do better! The Director Persona is exactly that of a good director of any wind band or symphony. The directors that push the ensemble and musicians to new levels and want the best for the ensemble, tend to not take credit the way egotistical directors would and how they worry more about how the performance makes them look as a director. I think I need to take some time and go back through some of your other blog posts and reflections.



  5. Hey Joy! After virtually knowing you for a semester and a half, I co-sign that you have the amazing skills of being a director. Our group project last semester, you seamlessly swooped in and brought everyone together, saw the big picture, and then empowered the rest of the group to thrive at their roles. Your ability to see the big picture and complete the process with buy-in from others was impressive and much appreciated. I final product looked really good! Great job on this post!


  6. Joy,

    What an interesting read! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about these different personas that your book discusses. It really makes me take a step back and think about which persona I would be. It also makes me think about which personas my peers are. One of my mentors is definitely the director persona. She does a great job at recognizing a persons strength and helping them to build on it. I really liked reading about the experience architect because I have never thought about that persona. It’s interesting learning that part of the business. I think it’s because I am an HR person, so my focus is “internal customers”. Thank you for sharing!



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