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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