Experiences: Safe Havens For Tribe Action

It was an amazing evening.

The Robin Hood Foundation had just raised $101,000,000.

In one night.

At one event.

Some people looked at the result and decided the tactic was the secret.

It was not

The gala itself is not the story.

The real story has two parts.

First, it’s about all the efforts that took place before the event to build peer pressure. To remind tribe members that, “People like us, do things like this.”

The second part of the story is about building a safe haven experience. A safe place for tribe members to connect and take action.

The back story

To understand the full story you should know a little about Robin Hood Foundation.

It’s a New York charity supported by wealthy hedge fund and Wall Street investors.

The foundation had spent a generation building expectations about this event. Carefully telling stories about the generosity of tribe members. At the same time, playing into the hyper-competitive, egomaniacal worldview of Wall Street.

That’s why there were very few anonymous gifts at the gala.

Almost all the money raised revolved around a simple trade:

Cash for status

The event created a certain tension. But within a safe space.

You’re there. Your spouse is there. Your peers are there. An auction is taking place. The cause is a good one.

But even more, you can raise your profile.

You can earn respect. You can dominate the competition. All in the safe haven of the event experience.

Money, status, responsibility

If that matches your worldview and you believe you can afford it, then money flows. And more stories are told within the tribe.

Over the years, these narratives become normal. They’re not extreme stories. They’re not unbelievable stories. Not to our tribe.

Instead, they’re about “people like us doing  things like this.”

The intentional nature of this two-part story is easy to overlook. But a $101 million result like this one doesn’t happen as an unintended side effect.

The experience space

The goal of an experience is to create a place within which tribe members can connect.

Where they can tell each other stories and experience the movement.

In the past such spaces have included beauty shops in the South during the civil rights movement. Quaker work camps in the 1960s and 1970s. The Seneca Women’s Encampment of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Modern spaces

Today, they are more often digital places. They usually include apps, interactive platforms and social media sharing.

You can see examples of the variety of these experiences here.

You’ll notice that whether they are virtual or physical, they all have one thing in common.

Safe spaces for action

These are spaces where the rules of engagement and behaviors are different from those of “the world as it is.” Instead, they’re microcosms of what the tribe hopes will become the future. They’re places to go to see “the world as it can be.”

If you want people to act differently, it helps to change their surroundings.

To create a place that supports the new behaviors. Especially when they’re directly opposite to the world as it is.

Experiences create a space where it’s easier for people to embrace new beliefs. And most important, a place to perform new behaviors.

A safe haven for stories

Great experiences emotionally connect people.

They drive people to action.

They build tribes.

And the stories that they generate are monumentally more powerful than messages.

A safe place to make change

Whether they are online or physical, they’re places where people come together. United by a common belief. A shared passion about something that needs to be changed in the world.

Their reaction to that change emotionally connects them to a purpose. A cause that connects them together as a tribe.

In this context, experiences help the tribe to act.

In fact, they bring people together to make the change they seek.

A safe place to bring people together

The most powerful tribe experiences allow us to do things together that we can’t do as well individually.

They also enable tribe members to reach out to others who share their worldview. and passion. Where they can safely tell stories to themselves and others about their experience.

Safe havens come in many forms

Experiences are not about rules. Or about platforms. Or best practices. They come in many different shapes, sizes and forms.

When you add a person’s passion to a tribe’s shared worldview you can create an experience that connects with them.

That’s because it leverages people’s biases instead of fighting them.

Hear that? It’s opportunity knocking

This gives those who create experiences a huge opportunity. An opportunity that’s bigger than messaging ever was.

That opportunity is to help people.

To create experiences around their passion. Experiences that help them connect to others and together fulfill their common cause. And the change they seek.

Action not messages

You can help them accomplish it by creating safe spaces that enable the tribe to act.

Through experiences.

Not by telling them what they should believe or what they should do.

So stop sending out masses of messages. Build an experience they won’t forget. With a safe space for them to act.

Shifting to experiences

You can pivot (I hate that term) from messages to experiences.

From Measly Messages to Mighty Moments can help.

You’ll learn how to change your organization from being message-driven to experience-driven. And in the process help your tribe. Not hype them.

But that’s just my opinion. What’s your take?