The Secret of the 21st century leading companies


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The title of the book[i] last year suggested that the ‘secret’ was a relentless focus on Outside-In thinking and practice. Let’s dig deeper and understand the essence of Outside-In, in other words let’s unfold what makes the secret so profound, practical and accessible by anyone who wishes to progress their roles and organisations to new levels of achievement.

1. Seek – Focus on what you do want, rather than on what you don’t

· How are you approaching performance improvement?

· Do you continue to search for things to stop doing?

· Can you refocus and identify the things you should be doing?

2. Shape – Identify the customers and staff you require and trust them

This is a big ask for many. “How on earth can we trust our customers?” “We could never trust our staff”. Ask yourself a more pertinent question – who on earth recruited those customers and staff in the first place? What was the criteria for that and what were you thinking about?

Making customer service key to your organisation will keep your employees motivated and your customers happy.
Richard Branson

Outside-In companies believe in their people and the customer. They actively recruit customers by creating and managing customer expectations[ii]. In doing so less desirable customers can be actively managed away. Naturally you need the people within the organisation to deliver the means to the SCO and that is through the processes. If you develop trust and competency within your people they will shape the customer experience to deliver success. On the other hand if you assume your people are untrustworthy you establish a ‘checkers checking checkers’ mindset which is expensive, slow and ultimately provides a sub-optimal customer experience.

What steps could you immediately take to:

· recruit the customers you desire, and

· ensure your staff are motivated, engaged and trusted?

3. Execute – Progressively align everything to Successful Customer Outcomes

If you have a choice go for the biggest current challenge within the organisation.
Within 45 days the process can be transformed to significantly reduce costs (typically 40-50%) and simultaneously improve service. In revenue generating processes turnover will begin to grow as service improves and turnaround times reduce. Train all your people in basic techniques so they can contribute directly from the ‘get-go’ (rather than exclusively rely on a cadre of colored belted statisticians).

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase..
Martin Luther King Jr.

If your choice of starting point and actions are limited in scope do not be disheartened. Know that it is sufficient to take the first step and the staircase will unfold as you move forward. Fix the stuff you can as you do you will achieve results significantly better that traditional inside-out techniques. Within weeks you will produce the justification to move upstream and downstream from your starting point to eventually connect all processes.

Ultimately mature Outside-In companies embrace “the customer experience is the process” and the activities move beyond the boundaries of the organisation into the relationships and partnerships that deliver customer success. Working those relationships and building value through partners creates a differentiation way beyond the capabilities of traditional organisations.

As you start the journey:

· How could you grow your capability immediately?

· What steps can you take to begin the journey?

· Where should you focus those immediate resources?

· Can you take a half day for everyone to learn three simple techniques that will produce a tangible measureable deliverable immediately?


[i] Outside-In The Secret of the 21st century leading companies –

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Towers
A seasoned practitioner with over 30 years of hands-on experience, Steve Towers is one of industry's noted experts in BPM, Customer Expectation Management and Performance transformation. Towers heads the Research & Professional Services network within the BP Group, the world's first and premier network for Process & Performance professionals.


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