Looking Outside-In

The BP Group is 20 years old in September. Over the last two decades people who have participated in our training and consultancy and have captured some of my comments. There are over 200, many clearly inspired by my heroes ‘giants’ in business and life. The list here are the ones most often referred back to me 🙂

How much do you need to know, to know you know, you know enough?

The Customer Experience is the process (Steve Jobs)

If things are changing faster outside than in, you will fail.

You don’t have a choice about where to start. You can only start where you are now!

Are you aligned to Successful Customer Outcomes (SCO’s)? Or are you just moving the chairs on the deck of the Titanic?

If you do not know who your customer is you do not know what you are doing.

Stop managing and measuring outputs. Start managing Customer Expectations and measuring the SCO.

Can your people clearly articulate their contribution to the SCO?

This is a once in a 600 year thing. The invention of the printing press (1436) and now Outside-In (1997).

Does your technology help with the SCO? If it doesn’t scrap it!

Technology is the emans to the end, not the end in itself. It is just the same with pen and paper.

To link process with performance we need to rethink what we mean by performance.

We shouldn’t keep looking back at the past to define the possibilities for the future.

Does your process start and end with the customer? If it doesn’t you are fixing the wrong thing.

Someone said the Chinese are coming. They are wrong. The Chinese have been and gone. This is what you are left with as a consequence!

Moving Outside-In isn’t a choice. It is a pre-requisite for success in the 21st century.

Are you measuring Activities and Tasks (Inside-Out), or Outputs and SCO’s (Outside-In)?

The only reason a process exists to is to help achieve a Successful Customer Outcome.

Can you connect every single task with the Successful Customer Outcome?

Who pays your salary? Yes it is the Customer.

Check your companys reports. How often is the customer mentioned? If they are not it shouldn’t surprise you that the business is failing.

If you aren’t managing Customer Outcomes you aren’t managing the most aspect of your business.

Look beyond the Output. How does it contribute to the Customer Outcome? If it doesn’t stop producing it.

The customer is not my job? Get Real. The customer is everyones job!

Evolving Outside-In is not a destination. It is a journey.

The process map is not real. It is a collective hallucination.

Are you in control of your processes (or is someone else?)

We are considering these questions:
Are your processes reactive or proactive? Do you exercise control through process, or is the process managing you? What role does the customer play in your processes – passive onlooker or active participant? Do you have a plan for maturing your processes in order to significantly reduce costs, enhance service and grow revenues?
In the ground-breaking book “The principles of Scientific Management” (published in 1911) Frederick Winslow Taylor observed “The first step in gaining control over an Organisation is to know and understand the basic processes.” One hundred years later this has never been more important and is a central theme for progressive organisations i.e. getting and maintaining control of all activities and tasks that contribute to the delivery of a Successful Outcome. 
1.    Are your processes reactive or proactive?
For those familiar with the ‘Moments of Truth’ concept (see here) we understand that all work is ultimately caused by customer interactions. Frequently negative and often unsatisfactory interactions create the work we see every day within our companies. If we examine the Moments of Truth we understand the very nature and shape of work that will result. Will the process be simple and create positive outcomes? Does the process appear convoluted with many checkpoints and possible errors? There is a secret known to leading companies such as Apple, Bestbuy and Google.
2.    Who is in control – or is the process managing you?
With all the talk in the process world of ‘process owner’ you could believe there was a science to identifying, managing and maturing processes. Is this so? Some would claim to have process repositories with well documented and indexed processes accessible at the touch of a button. Process ownership and records do not mean control. Consider this as an example. Customer Call Centre processes are to a very great extent initiated and pushed by customer interactions. We track calls, measure cycle times, identify waits, reduce talk time, optimise scripts and try to answer queries. All this activity is driven by customer behaviour. There is an illusion of control because we measure, some would say excessively, everything that moves. Gaining control of a process involves more that measures acted on retrospectively. True process control involves a series of specific and easy to apply techniques that transform and redefine the process landscape.
3.    What role does the customer play in your process (and is it important)?
“My job isn’t the customer. That is for the guys in sales and marketing and customer service and collections. I do the accounts/program/manage people/motivate/create strategy…” This is an accepted reality for many. It appears to be true that the customers do not figure directly in their work. However the only reason the job exists is to contribute to product or service bought by customers. Through that we collect revenue that ultimately results in profit for the share-holder. It is therefore logical to suggest that everything the organisation does should be explicitly linked to a Successful Customer Outcome.  Accordingly you should be able to articulate what contribution any activity or task makes to the ultimate outcome. If you can understand the role of the customer in every process you can eradicate all that stuff that doesn’t contribute positively. There is a systematic way to do this with immediate positive results for the people, process, enterprise and customer.
4.    Do you need to improve your processes and if so how do you?
All work is process. Whether we have a structure or means of capturing activities and tasks it comes down to the same thing. Creating a picture of what is happening and then managing that picture to a better place than now. Is that part of your process world, and how do you approach it? Are all processes viewed as virtual productions lines trapped inside functional specialist silo’s. How many processes cut across the organisation and extend to the customer experience? Where does the process start and end? When the phone rings (reactive) or at your initiation (pro-active?). Developing a process maturity model aligned to your business can deliver quantifiable results quickly. After all you don’t want to leave it to chance.

We’ll discuss the ‘solutions’ in the next update.
Meanwhile what is your view?See the latest at http://linkd.in/ProcessControl

Sources of Information for Advanced BPM aka Outside-In

If you wish to read and listen more on these themes the following references are useful.
Join the community discussing these issues, challenges and opportunities.

Community and social networking



Customer Capitalization
– Roger Martin, Dean of Faculty, Rottman Business School


HBReview, Feb 2010

Don’t give customers what they think they want
Steve Towers



Evolution of Approaches
BP Group



Interview with Blog Radio


Outside-In (15 mins)

The Best Performing companies
Millward Optimoor



North American Airlines customer satisfaction falls to a 4-year low

J D Powers latest survey (issued June 30, 2009) ranks the Customer Experience of 13 Airlines.

An indicator of the trend to ‘Outside-In’ business models is the performance of companies delivering consumer oriented products and services (B2C) and no less so than the airline sector.

The survey, which queried nearly 13,000 travelers, measured airlines in seven categories: cost and fees; flight crew; in-flight services; aircraft; boarding/deplaning/baggage; check-in; and reservation.

“Any improvements in customer satisfaction are being offset by passenger displeasure with cutbacks on in-flight amenities, increases in fees and attitudes of flight crews,” says Dale Haines, senior director of the travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates, in a statement.

We have taken J D Powers data and with additional commentary combined results from the latest survey to present a complete picture of airline performance across the sector, ranked in terms of the customers importance.


J D Powers separates the report into two – traditional carriers and low cost airlines. We think that distinction is no longer as relevant to the customer experience as, for instance ‘low cost carrier’ Jet Blue offer a fully and complete range of services, on a par if not better than most regarded as ‘traditional’.

In fact ‘traditional’ service is a poor cousin of much of the ‘low cost carriers’. Also the distinction of traditional carriers having multicabin is lost on the vast majority of travelers, as for instance several carriers only additional facility in a higher class is to offer a ‘free’ drink and newspaper. Much has been said about the failure of tradtional carriers to effectively manage the customer expectation with feedback such as this experience is not unusual (thanks to Vicky Cartwright, e2e Technologies Ltd; Broadcast Media Consultant).

It is reassuring to see the data represented as the customer experience, rather than a set of activities. This distinction should be applied to all consumer surveys, measuring as it does the customers view of the process.

Additional steps could be taken to extend the scope of the actual survey to include the total customer experience, for instance the airport services and facilities, the transportation systems, the ease of access and egress from the airports. That actual customer experience is a big part of the consumer decision making process of which airline to fly.

Infact more progressive airlines now consider that complete customer experience as their process, and while they can’t own every aspect of it they can partner and control it. For instance Southwest’s partnering with various hotel chains to provide a unified check-out/check-in service is an improvement to customer service while at the same time reducing Southwests costs and growing future revenues.

As consumers it is the smart thing for airlines to do and changes the customer expectation of others. This lifting of the bar places further pressure on the inside-out carriers who continue to see a drift of passengers to a complete offering.

These aspects of travel are making their customers lives easier, simpler and more successful.

Here’s the consolidated table combining the results produced by J D Power.

In summary Alaska Airlines ranked highest for a second consecutive year. JetBlue once again performed well, topping the low cost carriers followed closely by Southwest.

It is worth noting that all top five performers are ‘outside-in’** companies.

More on this theme soon!

See the complete J D Power report here.

**New to the distinction of ‘inside-out’ to ‘outside-in’?
Here’s a quick summary provided by BP Group LI Manager, David Mottershead

An outside in process is one which has been created to successfully deliver a customer outcome and has been designed from the customer’s perspective. ��This process is likely to reduce the number of moments of truth or interactions with the organisation and is “doing the right things”, in terms of delivering the process as part of an overall customer success strategy. ��

An inside out process may be thought of as one which also provides the goods or services to the customer, but the process to provide these are viewed from the organisation’s perspective. It may be “doing things right” but not necessarily “doing the right things”. ��It may seek to improve the customer’s experience, but not necessarily aligned with delivering a successful customer outcome, or what the customer really wants.

>David Mottershead, CPP (Certified Process Professional) – Creative Digital Technology (Australia)

BPM Weekly Update from the BP Group

BPGroup weekly LinkedIn update (152 discussions, 1815 LI Members)

Video keynote from Gartner conference – http://bit.ly/gW4zi
What are the top Outsider-Inners doing – http://bit.ly/R4RiA
Top Discussion – http://bit.ly/O7WUH
Are “Bolt-On” BPM Systems Running Out of Market Space? http://bit.ly/VT4Je
The Best Way to pitch BPM (summary) – http://bit.ly/JfWkl
FIVE Webinars in progress – http://bit.ly/kG4WI
Business Process Professional training – http://www.bp2009.com
Newsletter for May (last week) – http://bit.ly/12Lcop

All the Best, Steve

PS. Monthly newsletter next week – new ICMG webinars also

Alan Trefler – The wonderful Wizard of Oz? – Gartner, San Diego

At the recent annual Gartner BPM conference in San Diego, diehard BPM veteran Alan Trefler of Pegasystems (founder and CEO) gave his keynote presentation. Trefler began by reminding the audience that in today’s turbulent economy we are all “not in Kansas anymore” and may just need some fancy slippers to find our way back home to success and profitability.

Get yourself a coffee and revisit the Wizard of Oz for quarter of an hour with Alan Trefler – Video (you will need to register with Pega but that just takes two minutes) Event here

Whatever next “Stargate BPM”? 🙂

Top 5 Business Tools in Twitter

Here is the list I use for getting the very best out of Twitter.
Bill Gates talked about business at the speed of light.. Twitter has made that Warp Factor 9.

Review my favorites and let me know of your own!


Gartners Magic Quadrant wears thin?

Quite a debate has broken out in reaction to the latest release/retraction then rerelease of the annual Gartners BPM Systems Magic Quadrant. Join the discussion at http://bit.ly/LWcPK.
Here’s an extract from Theo Priestley

The end of Gartner’s reign in my opinion.

I had a sneak preview at the latest MQ report from Gartner from a friend in a particular vendor who were very pleased to say the least to make the MQ for the first time…..however…..

This smacks of a major u-turn to fit either the market conditions today or getting ‘found out’ for leading organisations down a path they really didn’t need to go down. Honestly, I wonder how they got away with those MQ reports for so long. People take them far too seriously and their glorified SWOT analysis really only served to preserve a very uneasy status quo in BPM. There has been little real innovation in tools because this kind of paid advertising can backfire on a vendor who develops something out of the norm.

Are companies growing tired of their broad brush format and BPM changing little over the years ? Are they turning their backs on Gartner (I suspect Butler and Forrester will no doubt revamp their reports just to keep up) in droves to make their own decisions based on what fits their business not what Gartner tells them will fit ?

I know for a fact, I’ve been involved in vendor selection before and have been told to look at research but never to base the final decision on it. Research on BPM tools and methods should be impartial, fact based and tailored to the clients needs. It needs to go back to basics to the old approach where clients and customers ask for specifics to be investigated according to their needs, industry and future demands. Not a broad brush approach and a 20 page report covering every aspect, relevant or not.

Oil & Gas, Financial Services, Utilities, NFPs, Legal, Local Govt: they all use BPM(S) for different reasons and as such should have difference criteria to weight each tool upon. That means REAL research.

There is a need for this in the market place. In this time where resources are precious and decisions cost, can we afford not to have it.