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CX Vision lessons from the Glen Canyon Dam (and Isaac Asimov)

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 06/07/2016

Glen_Canyon_Dam_and_BridgeI visited Antelope Canyon a few weeks ago.  It’s a terrific trip, and I highly recommend it.

As a part of the trip we visited the Glen Canyon Dam. Upriver of the Hoover Dam, it creates Lake Powell, the second largest man-made lake.  The tour guide shared the three priorities for the dam:

  1. Water management
  2. Power generation
  3. Water recreation

The order matters.  While many communities depend on the power created by the dam, this takes a back seat to the importance of the water, which serves millions of people.  Similarly, while the creation of Lake Powell created a significant number of recreation jobs, both water and power needs trump this.

It reminded me of Isaac Asimov’s three rules of robotics:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

How Could This Apply to CX?

For both of these, the hierarchy matters. And this is the lesson for your CX vision.

First, is your CX vision as clear as the Glen Canyon Dam’s is? It’s not hard to imagine other uses for the dam – for example, education and tourism. But all of these are secondary to their three priorities.

One of the biggest challenges with CX programs is a wimpy vision. “We love our customers,” or “Customers are #1” aren’t visions.  A vision requires a clarity that informs decisions. These don’t.

For example, when leading a CX vision workshop with one client, one of their three pillars was “Consistency.” This was important, because they go to market through third-party relationships.  If “consistency” is a core CX pillar, then these third parties need to be managed closely to ensure they stay true to my client’s brand. The test of a CX vision is whether it allows you to say no to initiatives.  If it doesn’t, then it’s not really much of a vision.

Second, is there a hierarchy to your vision?  Serving one pillar may require you to sacrifice another. If being “high-touch” is a central pillar, then automating certain relationship activities may be a bad idea – even if “low-cost” is a separate pillar.  A hierarchy allows you to manage these trade-offs.

Do you have a CX vision?  And, if so, is it as clear as the dam’s?  Or are you stuck with a generic “customers are good”?  Because that’s no vision at all.

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