Publish at October 29 2020 Updated October 30 2021

Wow Effect!

Assessing What You Can't See

Surprised woman

What if the Wow Effect Replaced the Satisfaction Rating or the Numerical Score?

Porter, one of the most-cited authors in management science, argues that anything that cannot be measured cannot be managed. Starting from there, quantophrenia has taken hold of organizations seeking to establish the best indicators to optimize and manage. The phenomenon is particularly strong with learning platform managers who have login data and navigational graphs and imagine they can understand what is going on in learners' heads.

In doing so in the world of education and training, systems of domination and seduction have created that mask and obfuscate [prevent the consideration of] unmeasurable effects. If society, as several critics such as de Gaulejac explain, is sick of too much management, this disease also affects the way educational or training systems are piloted.

In a society of service, the difficulty that arises is that everyone has his or her reference points to appreciate the service rendered or received. Everything happens invisibly in the brain or the gut. This economy is called the service economy. The producer and the user of the service collaborate to obtain a common result. This phenomenon is evident in the training sector since learning is as much the responsibility of the teacher as the learner. The combined effort of both parties contributes to success, their disunity to failure.

In this case, it is necessary to balance and cross-reference what has been produced. Outside of an explicit pedagogical contract, the situation is rather one-way. Either a teacher evaluates the students, which is what happens in initial education, or a group of trainees evaluate their trainer, which is what happens in the world of professional training. Learning is a particular activity whose effect on individual projects, the development of critical thinking, the construction of personality, emancipation, the contribution to the resolution of concrete problems cannot be so easily assessed with discrete variables and grading scales. There is a lack of a method to appreciate the most subtle shifts. Qualitative methods require a substantial investment.

An Alternative: "The Wow Effect!"

The wow effect has one advantage in that it focuses on the emotional and subjective dimensions of the lived experience. Marketing champions have clearly understood that quantified measurement alone does not capture the quintessence of what makes goods or services valuable.

In addition to the criteria of quality, cost, deadlines, and satisfaction measurements, new ecological, value, and coherence criteria are now being added. What is learning worth if it is not fully attuned to the values, emotions, and intelligence of the individual? What does the veneer of knowledge production, so skilfully disseminated without it touching the intimate, personal way of being in the world?

Knowledge cannot be merely utilitarian and pragmatic, or even alimentary, for it connects us to others. It carries with it values, a mediation with other humans and their genius to something greater than itself. However humble the knowledge acquired, it links us to others and the intelligence of a profession. This is why we expect a surplus of meaning, emotion, the power to act, and pleasure when we learn.

The Wow Effect in Practice

The wow effect refers to an onomatopoeia that translates a miracle, a stroke of genius, a eureka! An orgasmic inarticulate cry that says how impressed, seduced, or bluffed one is by an idea, a project a prototype. What are the conditions of this wonder? According to Wizishop,  four characteristics that stimulate enchantment generate the wow effect:

  1. Positive emotions
  2. New sensations
  3. Exceeding expectations
  4. Sharing knowledge

The wow effect is the holy grail of marketers, salespeople, or anyone looking to impress others, to get them on board to sell them goods and services, or to encourage the best reception of their ideas or educational proposals, if we are in the educational world.

It brings to mind the meticulous presentations of Steve Jobs with the organization of spectacular stagings to give everyone the feeling of living an exceptional moment. It has a stagey feel, enhancing the product and its presenter as if the world stopped spinning to make way for a moment of magic.

Some experts, trainers, and performers aim for this result in every speech they make because it's an adrenaline rush when they achieve this absolute recognition. But what are their secrets?

  1. They have built a character, stagecraft, gestures, and looks;
  2. They start from situation to generalities rather than knocking out their audience with too many concepts;
  3. They string together and vary the rhythms;
  4. They are pleasant and humorous;
  5. They touch the outer sphere, as much as the interior sphere;
  6. They play with emotions: theirs and yours;
  7. They have perfectly understood who their audience is and what expectations they have.

There are also the collective conditions of sharing and learning that I call "irreversible experience of creative cooperation" that produces a surplus of well-being within a collective and reinforces a sense of learning and self-improvement.

One More Criterion, but Not the Only One

While the wow effect may prompt us to rethink how to assess an intervention, especially by integrating qualitative dimensions, it should not give in to the single temptation of marketing seduction, which is a huge trap, and lead us to start again from scratch with old measurement approaches that struggle to encompass complexity.

To rehabilitate the qualitative in the appreciation of educational activity, it is also interesting to remember what Einstein told us: "Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted, counts."


Wizishop - Create a wow effect and delight your customers with your e-commerce store

Le Figaro - The phrases to ban at the office the wow effect

Bruno Jarosson - What I've learned from 700 experts

Thot Cursus - Developing a Learning Territory Now - Irreversible Experiment in Creative Cooperation

Wikipedia - Michael Porter -

Médiapart quantophrenia

De Gaulejac, V (2005). La société malade de la gestion. Paris: Seuil.

Barcet, A. (1987). The rise of services, towards an economy of servuction (Doctoral dissertation, Lyon 2).

Journal du net -Steve Jobs' 20 Tips for Successful Presentations

File Educational Reduction- Thot Cursus -

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