Two Minute Test: How Far Are You Along the Continuum From Inside-Out Process (Company-centric) to Outside-In (Customer-centric)


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No company or consultant I know of is at either end of the spectrum, nor should they be. But the vector definitely points towards Outside-In and customer-centricity. Rate yourself between 1O (the first statement is correct) and 0 (the second statement is correct) on each of these 10 statement pairs.

O/I: You focus on finding breakthrough new ways to create customer value
I/O: You feel you’re already creating enough value

O/I: You try to deliver more value by changing what work you do and who does it
I/O: You try to add value by changing how you work

O/I: You redraw functional boundaries and merge or eliminate functions to align with customers
I/O: You keep your organization the same and expect customers to adapt to it

O/I: You base decisions for improving work purely on serving customers
I/O: You base decisions for improving work purely on reaching internal goals

O/I: You let customers decide how you should operate
I/O: You let senior managers and function leaders decide how to operate

O/I: You consider redesigning your work, including company policies, the first step in building customer relationships
I/O: You consider building customer relationships solely up to sales, marketing and service

O/I: You empower customer contact employees to make independent decisions
I/O: You punish customer contact employees for varying from tightly defined policies

O/I: You consider employee training far more important to customers than promotion
I/O: You fund promotion to the hilt and pay lip service to training

O/I: You consider adapting products, services and work to suit customers your first priority
I/O: You consider brand-building your top priority

O/I: You would never consider buying customer-related technology without first redesigning work to create maximum customer value with or without the technology
I/O: You consider customer-related technology the best way to influence customers while controlling costs

Now add up your 10 scores. If you finish under 30, you or your company are probably so far behind the customer learning curve that you’re terminal. Scores in the 30-50 range would indicate that you’re behind, but not terminal. Scores in the 50 – 70 range indicate that you’re probably keeping pace with business trends. In the 70 – 90 range you’re leading edge. Scores over 90 indicate you’re in danger of sliding down a razor blade.


  1. Great list, Dick. It’s easy to become insular and forget who makes paychecks possible! Senior management holds the key to breaking the I/O gridlock, by their example and emphases. It’s an ongoing journey that can’t afford slack – I call the O/I approach internal branding. Another good list of 30 best practices for customer-centric innovation is in my article at

    Lynn Hunsaker,, mentors executives for superior customer profitability, specializing in customer-centric culture-building, cross-organizational engagement, and customer data ROI. She is author of 3 handbooks: Metrics You Can Manage For Success, Customer Experience Improvement Momentum, and Innovating Superior Customer Experience.


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