Award-winning magician, Stuart McDonald demonstrated and discussed the importance of continuously asking why in order to improve his creative process and performances at Ted X Detroit. Starting the show, he performed a captivating magic performance that not only aimed to entertain, but ultimately provided a message. In the act, McDonald seemed to stumble upon magic and uses it to make more money, which is something we all wish we could do so easily.
Stuart performed this act for legendary magicians Penn Jillette and and Raymond Teller on their show, Fool Us. The secret to his successful act is due to LEAN principles and continuous improvement. He emphasized the importance of needing and having a team to help solve a problem. Instead of asking the typical question of “did you like my act?” to his test audiences before widely performing a new act, he changed the question to “what bothered you?” In doing this, he was able to perfect his act based on what his audience was looking for.
After this process, he took all of the tricks that he planned to use in the act and lined them up across the walls in his home as a discussion piece to get commentary from guests. This use of process mapping allowed McDonald to develop his own concept of offline rehearsal editing to consistantanty build his performance and create a mock video that he sent to his peers for feedback. Upon receiving constructive criticism, he strategically would ask each person why five times to fully understand the root of the problems of their critiques. He found that his performance lacked time, place and character.
In understanding what his act needed, Stuart was able to perfect his performance which led to the producers of Fool Us contacting him. Thirty days prior to his appearance on the show, he videotaped his act everyday for continuous improvement. His focus was to improve at least one thing every day. Focusing on LEAN principles and continuous improvement led to him winning Fool Us.