Scott Hodge


The Art of Vuja De

Apr 4, 2006

We all know what deja vu is, right?  You know – when you experience something that you are pretty dang certain you’ve experienced before – exactly as you’re experiencing it at that moment?  It’s crazy stuff…!

Well, how about VUJA DE?

It’s a term I ran across in Tom Kelley’s new book, The Ten Faces of Innovation.  According to Kelley, vuja de is the, "sense of seeing something for the first time, even if you have actually witnessed it many times before." 

Think about it – being able to see and experience something that you’ve experienced a million times before as if it were the first time

Can you imagine how helpful this would be for our churches and organizations if we would constantly put ourselves in the shoes of our first time guests (or, if you run a business – your customers?)

At The Orchard, we try to make vuja de an everyday experience.  That’s why in everything we do, we ask ourselves:

"What feelings, thoughts and even defenses might I feel about this idea if I were an unchurched person experiencing this for the first time?"

We also do a lot of walking and asking.  For example, when we walk around our campus we do our best to see things through the eyes of those we know will be walking through our doors for the very first time – everything from signage to music, from smells to lighting. 

Why?  Because these things make a difference!  We believe that…

A great environment is made up of a lot of little things done well! 

It’s not just one or two "biggies" – it’s ALL of the elements combined and working together that create the type of environment that we’re proud of and that we believe will create a remarkable experience. 

So – here are a few of our "ambient rules":

  1. Music Matters! 
    Every weekend in our campus, before and after our gatherings, you will hear great music being piped in through the speakers.  Everything from David Crowder to Coldplay. 

    There’s something about walking into a place and hearing great music!  (Our live music is even better!)  We also apply this "rule" to environments like Connecting Point ( for newcomers) and Orchard 101 – music playing before we begin and at breaks…

  2. Tickle the Nose! 
    No moth ball smellin’ church allowed!  One of the things that I love about the Orchard is that when you walk through the doors you will instantly smell COFFEE!  Think about it – even people who don’t like to drink coffee enjoy the smell of it!  (Kind of like cigars, right?)

  3. Great food & coffee! 
    If you’re going to have food at an event, make sure that it’s GREAT!  Forget the potlucks!  Spend a few bucks and leave people with the memory of great food.  We have a couple of small gourmet bakeries that we have contracted with to provide the "WOW" factor when it comes to our food!

    And pleaseeee, don’t be cheap when it comes to the coffee you serve!  Leave Folgers for the church down the street…  Serve GOOD QUALITY coffee!  At our coffeehouse, Common Grounds, we serve GREAT coffee and espresso drinks!  Sure, it costs more – but again, people walk away knowing it’s a great cup of coffee!  Another WOW!

  4. Be Positive! 
    No matter how bad things might be going or what challenges might be showing up, STAY POSITIVE!  On our team, we constantly talk about how important it is to "never let them see you sweat."

    If something isn’t going well – relax!  90% of the time people realize something is going wrong MORE SO because of the reaction and expressions of the person in charge.  Keeping our cool is key to creating the type of environment we want.

There are others, but I’m going to stop there…  I want to hear what YOU do to create a great environment in your organization.  Go ahead – comment!  

8 Responses to “The Art of Vuja De”

  1. Chad Wright says:

    My day job is as the owner of a small advertising/design agency. We are microscopic compared to most medium sized agencies, but our #1 rule is everything we do has to look big. Often our clients are shocked to find out how small we are because of the service and work we do.
    I’m trying to get this same idea across at our church where I serve as the children’s minister. I’m working on making us seem slicker than we really are. Not really bigger, because we just aren’t a big church right now. However, I want people to walk in and see that because of our creativity, we can offer things you would only find at a larger church. The same principles are what drive good advertising and design. Who’s looking at this? Where are they coming from? What message to we want them to get?
    This is the face of the church of the future. A church that acknowledges that the world (Satan) is a pretty slick marketer, and he uses the entire world to grab people’s attention away from God. We need an answer to that. I think that answer is a church that uses all the latest technologies to have a great presentation, but also to train our people to be positive like you said.

  2. Rob says:

    Hey I love the Orchard, but if you could somehow get me to feel like I do when I walk in to Wrigley Field…you’d have to drag me out of there on Sunday mornings. J/K :-) Honestly we think you guys are doing an awesome job!

  3. The Peanut Gallery says:

    I think you really should credit Madonna for this idea, not Tom Kelley. After all, in 1984, she came up with Like a Virgin:
    Like a virgin
    Touched for the very first time

  4. mrroach says:

    I would be happy just to be allowed to bring the hot brown water served at my church into the sanctuary with me.
    The choice of going without any morning beverage, even such a poor one, or being late is just too much to deal with at that hour. (OK, 11am is not early, but I could have stayed home and slept till noon)
    (P.S. stumbled on your site through digg, and have enjoyed all your postings since)

  5. Betsy says:

    I love it. We have several people on our brainstorming teams to help us get out of “the bubble”. We’ll come up with a great idea, and they’ll say, “but that doesn’t make sense to me.” It can be a challenge to step back and see your church as a newcomer would, especially when you’ve spent so much time and effort building it.

  6. Chad Wright says:

    We can rack our brains all day long and not come up with things that newcomers will instantly see. It always helps to bring in outside opinions. I’ve always said (of our agency) any one of us can come up with good ideas all day long. It’s not until we all get together and work on those ideas that they become truly great.

  7. S. Pihlaja says:

    What I meant to say was, I think the smell of cigars or actually being allowed to smoke cigars in church would be fabulous.

  8. The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley with Jonathan Littman

    The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEOs Strategies for Beating The Devils Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organisation, by Tom Kelley and with Jonathan Littman.
    IDEO are world leaders in their field. They are essentially a…

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