Before long, you’ll either be Outside-In or upside-down

The choice before companies
Customers are assuming more and more power in buyer-seller relationships. Demographic and structural economic changes made this inevitable―and projectable for the near and mid-term future. But now that our market context is rapidly changing, business has to change with it. And organizations trying to stand pat risk getting run over―think Bearing Point, Charter Communications, Circuit City, Citi (which was going down before the financial crisis), CompUSA, General Growth, GM, Nortel, R.H. Donnelley and far more to come. Not letting customers drive their businesses brought down all of them. Nonetheless, most companies are still choosing between necessary change, limited change or staying the course.

Will it be Outside-In or inside-out?
Outside-In companies stand in customer shoes.
They think customer thoughts. They don’t just learn about customers, they see their entire companies with customer eyes. They develop strategies that add maximum value to customers, and not just in ways they’ve delivered value previously. And they design their organizations and their work to support customer-centric strategies―not to meet preconceived internal goals.

Inside-out companies―including those limiting change to what suits them, rather than customers―learn about customers. The learn how to persuade them to buy the company’s current goods or services. They plan to meet internal goals. They frame their businesses around their current products and current competencies, regardless of whether these products and skill sets continue to suit customers. And functional silos still drive their organizations and work.

In empowered customer markets, the choice is clear. Or it would be if going Outside-In did not require ceding power to customers and reorganizing the company around them, both anathemas to much of business.

But hasn’t business always put customers first?
The “sudden” appearance of the customer-centric, Outside-In approach to business over the past several years is hardly sudden. Wise business leaders and their companies have always understood that constantly creating new value for customers in ways that add value back to the company keeps a business growing and prospering, even in tough times. So the concept has been in play forever. However, until now we’ve considered organizations taking this customer value exchange approach exceptions to the rule.

Today, their numbers are increasing exponentially. And while pundits have applied many labels to describe the way these companies put customers first, “Outside-In” has proven the stickiest. But only the name is new―actually, the name and the popularity of the concept.

How O-I responds to changing markets
Customers―with their level of empowerment in buyer-seller relationships; their insistence that companies conduct business “their way;” and in many sectors their diminishing numbers and buying power―leave companies little choice but to become far more customer-centric. But that’s much easier to say than do. Fortunately, O-I is up to the job.

At a high-level, Outside-In starts by aligning strategies with customers; next aligns process to strategy; and last aligns technology with process. The outcome is entire companies aligned around customers with the agility required to not only keep up with customers but anticipate where they’re headed and act before they do.

Please follow the site navigation for more detailed descriptions of the primary components of Outside-In.

High-Yield Methods & Outside-In
HYM has been helping clients become customer-centric since formation in 1993. When the O-I term came into use, we readily adapted it, but our practice was already there. Over the years HYM has helped high and low profile companies: Develop customer-centric strategies; Design Outside-In process; and Align technology with process.

HYM’s Outside-In Process focus
Many of our clients design customer-centric strategies first, and then engage us for Outside-In process design, which HYM is best known for because of our development of Visual Workflow and its subsequent growth and success. That’s fine with us (although we typically take a look back to validate strategies while working the process side). Regardless of engagement scope, we’re very experienced and very good at what we do – and that includes all three alignment steps.

Outside-In (customer-centric) companies
These forward-thinking customers have all benefitted from applying the customer-centric business approach now called Outside-In.

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