The important thing before on-boarding

It’s not just about what happens once they’re on board and the vessel is setting sail. 

It’s not just about the on-boarding rituals that occur once they’ve arrived at the place of departure and they’re beginning to assimilate into the culture of how we do things here.

It’s also about what goes on before all of that: the pre-boarding.

Pre-boarding lets us know who they are, why they’re enrolled, what matters most, where they are now, where they want to get to, and how we can help them get there.

Environments lacking in pre-boarding tend to hamper themselves. They don’t set themselves up for success. They put themselves on the back foot. They’re forced to re-evaluate and make awkward shunts midway through the experience people have invested into to be a part of.

In an era where personalisation is key, pre-boarding grows in importance.

When we design experiences and environments where we are asking for investment and enrolment, we should ask the people we’re seeking to reach some important questions:

  • Who are you?
  • Who are you? *
  • Why are you here?
  • What matters most?
  • How can we serve you best?
  • What’s currently missing for you?
  • What have you not yet voiced that we need to hear?
  • Which assumptions have we made about you?
  • Which assumptions have you made about us?
  • Where and when do you show up best?

The experience or environment may be around discovery, learning, entertainment, amusement, or escapism. Our level of pre-boarding should change in line with the type of environment we’re designing, but without it we’re setting ourselves up to let down the people we want to inspire, delight and change.

And that’s not fair on anyone.

* Much like the question ‘How are you?’ it’s often worth asking this question twice.

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