Part 4 of 4: There are four distinctly Outside-In ways that you can rethink process and in doing so achieve Triple Crown benefits.

The previous three articles in this four part theme we reviewed ‘Understand and applying Process diagnostics‘, the ‘Successful Customer Outcome‘ and ‘Reframing Process for an Outside-In world‘. Now finally we move our attention to the fourth way we can rethink process forever.

Rethinking the Business you are in.

In the Southwest airlines example reviewed earlier we referred to the different viewpoints of the ‘business’ you are in. The two views – one the organisations, regarded as inside-out reflect the activities and functions undertaken. So British Airways see themselves in the business of flying airplanes and approach the customer with that product/service in mind. They set about marketing and selling the flights and hope to pull the customers to the product through pricing, availability and placement. In a slowly changing world where customers have little choice this strategy can provide a route to success.

As we have already seen the tables have turned and the enlightened customer demands so much more.
Southwest and other Outside-In companies understand this challenge and take a customer viewpoint.
What business would you say these six companies are in: Hallmark Cards, Disney, Zara, AOL, OTIS elevators, China Mobile?  Try it from the customers perspective and you’ll arrive at a very different answer – try these, expression, joy, style and comfort, community, moving people, connectivity. Yes they are very different and will reframe the way you think of the service and products you provide. Go further and look inside your existing company.

Are you still separated into functional specialist areas providing specific outputs to other departments in the so called ‘value chain’? Do you have internal ‘service level agreements’ that specify what you’ll deliver and when? How much of our internal interaction adds ultimate value for the customer? This way of organising work imposes limitations on our ability to truly deliver successful customer outcomes. The Inside-out viewpoint is inefficient, prone to red tape, is extremely risk adverse (checkers checking checkers) and slow in delivering product and service.

Many inside-out organisations actually regard customers as an inconvenience rather than the reason why they exist.

What business are you in? Past, present, future?

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Leaning to Outside-In..

“Not everything old is bad and antiquated and not everything new is shiny and good. The real secret to success is to combine the best of both.” Rene Carayol,  Senior Executive & Former Board Member for Pepsi, Marks & Spencer, IPC Media & The Inland Revenue

The world’s leading companies have come to realize that only when their customers are successful, will they be successful. In pursuit of their market leadership not only they need to spend time to look inside their business to know how things are getting done but also look outward to get deep understanding of their customers.

Process has indeed come a long way from it humble routes amidst the early industrial revolution and Adam Smiths ‘Wealth of Nations’.

Although many in Western
economies are in a state of denial,
we are undergoing the greatest reorganization in the business world since the Industrial Revolution.

No matter what industry you are in,
no matter how successful you are, it’s time to get ready for the world as it will be –a world where your customers have new choices
from a sea of suppliers from
across the globe.

Peter Fingar
Executive Partner,
Greystone Group
Author of Extreme Competition: Innovation and the Great 21st Century Business Reformation

One of the first people to describe process was Smith who in 1776 describes a new way for process in an English pin factory. He outlines the production methods and created one of the first objective and measureable enterprise process designs. The consequence of ‘labour division’ in Smith’s example resulted in the same number of workers making 240 times as many pins as they had been before the introduction of his innovation.

Adam Smith participated in a revolution that transformed the planet. He lived at a time when the confluence of factors, political change, emergence of the New World, industrialization and a new optimism that the world could move from the shackles of the past.

In heralding a movement that developed into Scientific Management the foundation was laid that established a way of working that has survived and thrived for 200 years.

And yet now, more than ever, is a time to perhaps take a careful glance back to the past to guide the way for not only surviving the current economic turmoil but to also prepare us to thrive in the seismic shifts of the 21st century ‘new world’ order where the customer has become central to everything we do.

Leading global corporations are now evolving their tried and tested approaches into methods suited to the changed challenges of customer promiscuity, globalisation, IT innovation and the Prosumer.  That is the essence of what we call Outside-In.

“The Customer Experience is the Process”
Outside-In can really be summarised in the statement that “the customer experience is the process”.  We can no longer just look within our organisation boundary to create a sustainable competitive advantage. We have to extend our scope and embrace a broader view of optimising process by understanding, managing and developing customer expectations and the associated experience. We need to articulate Successful Customer Outcomes and let those guide our product and service development as we move beyond the limiting scope of silo pyramidal based left to right thinking.

In 2006 BP Group Research identified the ‘Evolution of Approaches’ and how steps can be taken to grow Lean Six Sigma’s influence and success into a strategic Outside-In toolkit. In fact the last 4 years are seeing the fruition of these advances with recent Best in Class 2009 Award winners PolyOne, a dyed in the wool Lean outfit, advancing their stock price six fold in 18 months on the back of radical and innovative changes across its customer experience.

The Death knell for BPR, TQM, Lean and Six Sigma?

Some see Outside-In as the death knell for approaches developed during the late 20th century. Not so as that narrow and simplistic view does not acknowledge the stepping stones available to embrace the new customer centric order. In fact the foundations of our futures are always laid on the learnings of the past with those innovators who recognise the need to evolve leading that charge.

Victory will go to the brave who seize the moment and push forward their approaches into the brave new world of Outside-In. The sector leaders have set a precedent – can you embrace the challenge?

* * *

If you wish to read and listen more on this theme 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’s Gienn Weiss


Outside-In (15 mins)

The Best Performing companies
Millward Optimoor


Steve Towers
Steve TowersSteve is the founder of the Business Process Group ( a global business club (originally formed 1992) exchanging ideas and best practice in Business Performance Management, Transformation and Process Improvement.

He leads from the front and works with many of the leading fortune 500 companies as a mentor and coach specializing in the implementation of performance improvement, process change and transformation.
Steve is ‘Expert Advisor’ for IQPC and participates as a judge, workshop and track leader for the Lean Six Sigma and Process Excellence summits in the US and Europe.
He recently co- judged the Best Improvement Project category and selected US company PolyOne as the foremost Lean company on their journey to Outside-In.

An inspirational speaker and author of several books including “A Senior Executives guide to BPR”, “In Search of BPM Excellence”, “Thrive! How to Succeed in the Age of the Customer” and recently “Customer Expectation Management – Success without Exception”.  The new book, “Outside-In. The Secret of the 21st century leading companies”  chronicles the rise and approaches shared amongst the best companies in the world. Steve is noted for his direct and pragmatic approach.

Steve previously worked for Citibank where he led restructuring and business process transformation programs both in the US and Europe. Steve advises many boards and sits on the steering panel of the influential California based BPM Forum, a group of distinguished C-Level executives heading up Global 500 companies

Steve has bases in Europe (UK) and Colorado.

Professional Qualifications in Process and Performance Improvement
Copyright MMX, Towers Associates

BPM is going Outside-In – podcast

A new 15 minute overview of the challenge of Outside-In. Interview by the facilitators of the Lean Six Sigma conference in Orlando during January.

Still a few places left at what the BP Group endorse as a 5 Star ‘excellent’ event. There will be several BP Group presenters and workshops so if you have a chance to book at short notice register here –

Join us for a drink and BP Group community exchange 🙂

Latest Includes: You can’t manage what you can’t measure (or can you?)

The weekly update on the BP Group LinkedIn has some interesting perspectives:

Group Metrics:
Members: 2,356 (up 370 from last month)
Discussions: 220 (Each Month)
Subgroups: 4

Articles/Discussions underway this week – more than 224 underway!

Dick Lee – You can’t manage what you can’t measure (or can you?)

Steve Towers – BP GROUP SOAPBOX 2: Six Sigma caused the Financial crash

Thomas Olbrich – Barriers to Outside-In (Outside-In subgroup)

Janne Ohtonen – The Gap Between IT & the Business (Research & Study subgroup)

Fast links to key BPM resources

Steve Towers – Group Controller and the Business Process Professional subgroup
Also on twitter –
Connect directly – and if you need an email use

Dick Lee (US) – Group Manager and the Outside-In Process subgroup (100+ members)

Janne Ohtonen (Finland) – Group Manager and the Research & Study subgroup

John Corr (UK) – Group Manager and the Advanced Process Management subgroup

Stéphane Haelterman (Belgium) – Group Manager
David Mottershead (Australia) – Group Manager
Erika Westbay (US) – Group Manager

Do you need Business Process Management, Certification (7,000 in 4 years), or Coaching Support?
Visit for the program or learn more at

Quick Update on the mid year series underway. All Registrants will receive a copy of the webinars when the series completes

The sessions so far are producing lots of feedback and we’ll make available a review of these soon.
If you would like to join in then this week features FIVE Free webinars.
+++ For CPP people these webinars add 2 credits for certifcation renewal in 2009 +++

Review and register at

Recommended Conference (This week) –
Recommended Conference (January 2010) –

Architecture World 2009

iCMG Architecture World conference is focused on IT architecture as a specialty. The key focus areas include understanding of EAF(Enterprise Architecture Frameworks), Model Driven Architecture (MDA), Component based product line, Service-oriented Architecture (SOA), Business Process Management (BPM), ITSM etc. which are key for the End-User Companies for reducing IT costs, ensuring system longevity and enhancing productivity.

IT Architecture is getting recognized as a critical element for realizing practical vision of the IT system for Fortune 2000 companies. With the rapid pace of change today… iCMG Architecture World ’09 – Architecture for Business Innovation & Risk Mitigation

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”? 🙂

Business Process Excellence in Financial Services


click to review

Improve efficiency and customer service, increase revenue and reduce costs
September 29 – October 1 · Thistle Marble Arch Hotel, London, UK
Workshop day one – Accelerated Cost Reduction with BPE (Steve Towers)