Friday, May 22, 2015

CX Journey™ Musings: Building Your #CX Cathedral

Image courtesy of Pixabay
In your CX work, do you focus on the big picture or just on the task at hand?

At the CXPA Insight Exchange in San Diego a couple weeks ago, the keynote speaker for the first day of the event was Derrick Hall, President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks. I wasn't really sure what to expect; was this going to be  another Moneyball-type speech? Nope. It was far from that! He made us laugh, and he made us cry. He was a great storyteller and quite inspirational.

 One of the stories he told was worthy of sharing because I think it makes such a great point. It reminds us of a trap that I think many companies fall into: "small-picture thinking" or "in-the-moment thinking." They get so lost in what they're doing that they forget why they're doing it.

Here's the story...

A man came upon a construction site where three people were working.  He asked the first worker, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I'm laying bricks.” He asked the second worker, “What are you doing?” The man said: “I'm building a wall.” As he approached the third, he heard him humming a tune as he worked and asked, “What are you doing?” The man stood up, looked at the sky, and smiled, “I'm building a cathedral.”

Sometimes we get so focused on the tasks that we're doing, all the little tactical things, that we forget about the big picture, what it's all for. What's the outcome? What are we trying to achieve overall?

That story reminded me of a couple of quotes:

People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole. -Theodore Levitt

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. -Henry Ford

I think you can look at the bricklayer story from two different angles:

1. The customer perspective: Does the customer really know what he needs? It's less about what he needs than it is about what job he is trying to do. To improve the experience, to meet customer expectations, we must first understand what the customer is trying to achieve (He's trying to make a quarter-inch hole.). Then and only then can we design and deliver a better solution.

2. The company perspective: As we go about developing and executing on our customer experience strategies, we need to remember the big picture. While we're fixing processes and touchpoints here and there, we must remember to connect that to the over-arching objectives: to create and nurture customers and to deliver a great experience at every touchpoint along the journey, for the life of the relationship.

What's your take on the story? Is this an issue in your company? How do you inspire big-picture thinking in your company?

The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up. The shortcut to closing a door is to bury yourself in the details. -Chuck Palahniuk


  1. Hi Annette,
    Thank you for reminding me of that story, I've heard it before and have also used it in the past too and it's a great reminder of how we see ourselves fitting into the big picture. However, I wonder if, in the story and in similar situations, the third worker came to his own conclusions or did someone help him understand that?


    1. Great question Adrian! I hope someone helped the third worker understand the big picture. Most of us will need someone to help us understand what we are working towards.

    2. At the same time, wouldn't it be great to know that there are some big picture thinkers on the team?

  2. Thanks for sharing!
    At my company we provide a CEM system for the fitness industry. We coach our clients to keep the focus on fitness when interacting with their members. It is easy to get distracted from helping your clients meet their primary goals. Powerful data analytics provide an excellent big picture view with tools to drill deep into specific areas. When you get focused on creating a spectacular customer experience your club members will be able to easily work towards their goals. I think the two perspectives you detailed are absolutely crucial to effectively managing the customer experience.

    1. Thanks, Calen. I appreciate your thoughts and perspective.

  3. Annette, my take is slightly different, most people are busy laying bricks, but they have no idea what the bricklayer in the next department is doing or going. Consequently whilst we have the man power to build cathedrals we only ever build mazes

    1. I like it. Two totally different interpretations/outcomes that totally make sense, too. Now we just need to figure out how to put an end to that.


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