I would like to pose a question. When exactly did the world start accepting mediocrity as more than just the norm – when did mediocrity become the positive exception to the rule?

I was thinking about this as I was asked how a recent flight was. I told them the flight was great – but what I really meant was that my flight was entirely uneventful. I got to the airport with plenty of time, did not have to wait very long to check my luggage, and was able to make it through security without having to be strip-searched or anything. I went right to my gate, got on my plane, and everything happened exactly the way it’s supposed to. Plane goes up, peanuts, diet coke, plane goes down.

So the question I started asking myself is what part of that experience was great?

The great part was that nothing was a colossal failure. Nothing went horribly wrong, or was terribly annoying, or caused me any serious money or grief. How sad is it that? I thought it was great because I wasn’t assaulted by security, and the plane didn’t go down in flames.

The airport is one easy example, but it got me thinking overall – are the things that I have built great, or do they merely do exactly what they are supposed to do? What about the customer’s experience using my website/product/widget is going to surprise them and bring a smile to their face?

Taken as an example, Netflix’s greatness is not that they are able to send you movies a few times a month for a low fee. They become great when they leverage their data to provide recommendations on what movies to watch, and you end up watching and loving those movies.

So what examples can you think of? I would love some comments illustrating what makes your company/product/experience great versus just “uneventful”.

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