For an event to be truly successful, it must instill a feeling of belonging, which in turn is an act of inclusion. That is exactly what Google's Xi Days did.
Belonging was discussed and implemented during Google’s Xi Days event, held February 28 through March 2, 2023, in New York City. As a result, no one was excluded from the conversation.
Google tapped Storycraft Lab — a company focused on understanding audiences — to implement its Experience Profiles framework at the event. The framework helps organizations categorize and interpret learning styles to drive personalized engagement.
Xi Days attendee preferences helped develop and implement an “architecture of choice”. This was the omnipresent “voice of the participant,” supporting dialogue throughout the event design process.
“Personalizing an experience creates a space where everyone feels included. You’re offering different places where everybody can find comfort and what interests them,” said Naomi Clare Crellin, founder of Storycraft Lab. “This leads to success as you create a space where a person can operate at their absolute best.”
The Business Case
According to the Harvard Business Review, companies reap bottom-line benefits when workers feel like they belong. For instance, employees with a higher sense of belonging showed a 167 percent increase in their willingness to recommend their company to others.
“Belonging represents a win for us all. It creates more meaningful, joyful, transformative experiences for our audiences and ladders back up to a seriously positive ROI. This empowers us to confidently articulate the business value of inclusive, empathetically designed events and experiences,” said Crellin.
The Path to Belonging
Storycraft Lab used Google Xi Days to introduce its Wheel of Belonging website and a hands-on experience. The site is available to all, and it connects the dots from meaning to feeling and magic, with insights into how to create belonging. Each thread of dots is a pathway to belonging as it moves toward the center.
At Google Xi, an exhibit had attendees weaving personalized ribbons into a loom — co-creating an expression of belonging. Creating a Wheel of Belonging was never part of Storycraft’s original plan. However, discussions with Google kept returning to the topic.
“As the Wheel of Belonging conversations continued, we understood that belonging is complex, not binary. It is different for every one of us,” said Crellin. “Personalization is a journey, not a destination. Nobody can create an experience more tailored to your desires, needs, and preferences than you. You are the author of your experience, and the moment you participate in shaping that experience, you are vested in its success.”
Profiles Personalize Belonging
Google Xi attendees answered questions related to the event topics of Exploring, Excavating, and Bridge Building. Depending on their answers, they took on one of four profiles, the Visionary, the Alchemist, the Navigator, and the Investigator. A few attendees were equally more than one of these profiles, making them a Unicorn.
As a Google Xi attendee, I became an Alchemist, energized by curiosity and acceptance. “Alchemists appreciate and support every voice in the room equally, and they have a keen ear to synthesize,” the description stated. I must admit this is accurate, although I would have loved to be a unicorn.
Photo credit: Wheel of Belonging Exhibit at Google Xi Days / Storycraft Lab