Outside-In Process: The New Path to Customer-Centricity

By Dick Lee, High-Yield Methods

Peter Drucker famously opined that the greatest risk to organizations was neither doing the right work wrong nor doing the wrong work but not seeing or reacting to profound change occurring around us. Today, we’re in such a period of transformational change, with a powerful confluence of forces driving up the power of customers in buyer-seller relationships—and correspondingly depressing the potential for sellers to stay competitive while putting their own interests ahead of customer interests.

That this change is occurring is almost beyond debate. But how to effectively respond to this sea change is not only a matter for debate, but a source of great frustration for sellers. Fortunately, a growing number of companies are showing the way by proactively treating the rise in customer power as an opportunity rather than a threat—and using an approach becoming known as “Outside-In Process” or just “Outside-In” to build bridges extending out to customers.

Profiting from putting customers first

Since 1996, when it brought its first commercial product to market, Gilead Sciences has been among a group of companies providing pharmaceuticals to treat medical problems resulting from HIV-AIDS. But in 2006, Gilead leapt ahead of the pack by introducing a new drug developed not just for medical efficacy, but to improve quality of life for AIDS sufferers while also increasing patient compliance with following what had been an extraordinarily complex drug regimen.

A growing number of companies are showing the way by proactively treating the rise in customer power as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Gilead stepped outside of outcomes data and all the standard product development protocols to see medication through patient and physician eyes. And what it saw was patients taking its own “drug cocktail” in 17 different daily doses that required exact sequencing, including some via IV. And what Gilead also saw were patients unable to follow the regimen and falling off their medication as a result. Classic Outside-In vision through customers’ eyes. And classic Outside-In customer problem identification that lead to both a medical breakthrough and a customer breakthrough.

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