The Docent and the Driver

My friend Linda and I were together on the occasion of our college reunion at Penn a few weeks ago. After the festivities ended, we had the pleasure of a leisurely Sunday afternoon visiting The Barnes Foundation, an amazing collection of post-Impressionist and early modern art.

We took a docent-led tour to enhance our experience. She was just “OK”. She knew enough to provide some insights, but frankly, her commentary was disappointing.

It didn’t matter, though, because the art was stunning and the experience was fulfilling on its own.

We took a taxi back to the hotel and our driver was an unassuming man who immediately engaged us in conversation about the Barnes. We learned things about Dr. Barnes. He  commented on the 181 Renoir paintings in the collection. He asked our opinion about the unique displays. I wish he had been our docent!

I felt we got more value from this cab driver than we received from the docent. We paid extra for her and expected something, while we expected nothing from cab driver and received delight.

When you receive value from unexpected sources, the element of surprise intrigues you. In this case, the contrast between docent and driver made the value even greater.

I honestly don’t believe that his generous commentary was about a big tip (it was a short fare, after all). I think he loves people, is passionate about art, and wants to make a difference in the experience of a tourist.

Of course, this brings to mind the obvious: is your team more like the docent or the driver? This is well worth some thought, because as this vignette illustrates, the difference between the two can be substantial.

Have a great week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *