I was doing a transition workshop with a client, and the new leader’s administrative assistant asked how I wanted the room set up. Among other things, I asked if she would please make up some name tents for each participant. I arrived at the session expecting some simple name tents, perhaps some cardstock folded over. Everyone on the team was delighted to find she’d taken the time to make some exceptional name tents – each one personalized for its owner by reflecting something about their interests or personality. Take a look:
What she’d done is add what I now call fireflies to the experience. Say what?
Years ago, just prior to the opening of the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, Walt Disney and his top aids took what they hoped would be the final test ride before opening it to the public. If you have been on the attraction, you’ll recall that it begins with your boat entering an area that resembles a bayou. They had just started out, when Walt called out “Stop!”
“There’s something wrong here. Something doesn’t look right.”
No one could put their finger on the problem until someone suggested they “consult” with a busboy at the restaurant that overlooks this bayou. After all, he’d grown up near a real bayou. It took him about fifteen seconds to identify the problem. “No fireflies,” he said. “If this was a real bayou, you’d have thousands of fireflies, flickering on and off everywhere.”
Walt refused to have the attraction opened to the public until (legend has it) 10,000 artificial fireflies were installed. And so it came to be.
I’ve come to call fireflies those things we can add to an experience, that, were they not there, might not be noticed, but on some level, would be missed. We can all add fireflies to every day experiences — page numbers on handouts, a bowl of mints or candies on the conference table at a meeting, a personal thank you for a job well done. Personally, I think fireflies are a fine way to “sweat the small stuff.”
What fireflies have you created or witnessed? Let’s start a list…