The pioneer of all things Outside-In?

Who started #customerexperience ? Well, there has always been a customer experience, however, it is only in the last 20 years that companies have realized the need to get scientific about shaping and innovating #CX. Who was the pioneer that did that first? And in doing so shifted the emphasis from Industrial Age thinking to Outside-In practice. Let’s jump into the time machine and rediscover Steve Jobs back in 1997.

Moving from Product to Customer-Centric

Back then it wasn’t understood that designing Customer Experiences and delivering Successful Customer Outcomes went way beyond being product-centric. Steve Jobs anticipated this shift towards customer-centricity, and evolved Apples approach to rapidly shift to Outside-In strategy and operations.

Many of the concepts we accept, such as defining the customer experience from the customers perspective, and not the organizations, were developed in the cauldrons of Apple mountain. In fact, one of the key techniques within the CEMMethod™ was initially referred to as the ‘Apple Innovation Approach’.

Why so many still get it wrong

Here’s a great mini video explaining the difference in viewpoint Inside-Out v. Outside-In.

The CX Rockstar tells us why many get the definition of CX wrong.

James Dodkins aka CX Rockstar has many similar takes over at

We saw that at work in Outside-In design of products like the original iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Now taken for granted the last century was a mish mesh of competing chunks of technology (think the early MP3 players) that often required an MSc to understand the menu system and driver updates.

It isn’t what they want, it is what they NEED

Nowadays the major consumer product companies understand the requirement to articulates the needs of customers, and only then design products that meet those needs. That is Outside-In in action.

You would be right in saying he was the pioneer of Outside-In.

If you would like to dig deeper I talked about the difference in approaches of Industrial Age v. Customer Age/Outside-In in this article.

This item has caused quite a stir over at LinkedIn, you can join that discussion here.

Other Outside-In resources to Explore

How can you Link Process with Strategy to significantly improve Performance?

Do the math and the Top Team are as confused as hell. Are we all doomed?

For instance Google searches reveal a plethora of various experts claiming dominion over the process truth. Is it any surprise that the top team are confused. Who should you believe about improving and connecting process, strategy and performance? How can you get it right with so much potential mis information?

Six Sigma – 20.2 Million
Business Process Management – 273 Million
Enterprise Architecture – 25.5 Million
Customer Experience Management – 95.7 Million

And what benefit is all that process based stuff doing for organization performance? Why is there this disconnect between process transformation (whatever your flavor), performance improvement and Strategic Intent?

Is the disconnect something fundamental about how we think of work? 

Think about how we manage and control most organizations. Yes you probably guessed it, with a model of doing business from the industrial revolution. Is it any great surprise that process and strategy are at best disconnected and at worst the cause of todays business issues as our corporate mindsets are simply not geared for the customer/digital age.

We have got to step up and move our thinking and practice into the 21st century.

So let’s scan the horizon and look at a few of the folks who seem to have it…

Some common themes emerge when you research the Zara, Zappos, Emirates, Virgin, Apple, Amazon, Disney type companies.

Their success is defined by ongoing performance improvements despite the ups and downs of economic cycles, terrorism, climate change and industrial disputes. Performance improvements measured by objective and tangible results including shareholder values, profitability, service delivery and cost control separate these guys from the rest. So what is it?

At first glance could it be the improvements in efficiency and effectiveness through classic process approaches such as Lean and Six Sigma. Might it be shaped by removing non value added activities and streamlining activity? Or given the apparent disconnect between process and strategy elsewhere, and interestingly the lack of attention in these leading organisations towards industrial age approaches, where is this performance kick coming from?

Latest Research

Research now suggests the performance benefit is derived directly by connecting the processes with the customer experience and onwards into strategic intent. Can it be so straightforward? So simple others could emulate this approach?

We can trace the origins to a 1997 speech by Steve Jobs “You gotta start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. Not the other way around.” Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon, actually calls their strategic mission as ‘working backwards’. Put the customer first, then figure out what you need to do to align to achieving a successful outcome.

We have distilled this approach into the CEMMethod so as to train others in the deployment, with two lead techniques to create this understanding – The Outside-In Strategic Matrix (OISM), and the Successful Customer Outcome Canvas (SCOC).

Through this mechanism you can link Process to Strategy in a scientific way. Ultimately there shouldn’t be anything that you do as an organization that isn’t linked to the Successful Customer Outcome and the Strategic intent. Disney refer to this alignment as ‘True North’.

Mature Outside-In companies have a Rewards and remuneration system that further reinforces their efforts. People can literally see their day to day contribution.

It might not be rocket science and that is part of its virtue. We can all orientate our thinking and doing in the same way to unify strategy and process.


Steve Jobs talk in 1997 –


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When you say End to End what do YOU mean?

Nearly four years ago this question roused us all from our slumbers and continues to trouble many. Over on Linked In you can browse the various (and sometimes quite alarming) perspectives from noted to thinkers and leaders. Feel free to chip in and we will shortly summarise the key points for all to share 🙂

Review the story so far and join the debate at:

You have got to start with the Customer Experience and work backwards to the technology

How do Outside-In companies achieves 20-30% annually sustainable improvement across costs, revenue and service?

If there was a book of secrets featuring Outside-In one chapter would focus on Steve Jobs observation You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology”
Watch the 5 minute video to get the perspective.

So what? We can really get to grip with the principle involved here with a couple of ideas. The first looks at the world which sees the organization and its resources as being the key strategic motivator. We have resources (people, systems, structure and so on) that develop products that we then approach the market with and pitch at customer segments. Hopefully gaining market share and establishing customers who buy the product. This model has really been the pervasive approach until this century. Born in the industrial age, updated and upgraded and taught in business schools globally as the way of business. We can represent that idea with this diagram – Inside-Out:

Until the explosion of information brought about by the internet this model worked OK. However with information customers have become choosey, promiscuous, fickle and have immediate and ever changing expectations. The resulting complexity – trying to sell many things to everyone – is the journey to ruin. Go ask Kodak, Nokia, Blockbuster and Blackberry how they have fared faced with the prosumer of the 21st century.

On the other hand we have a view of the world which starts with the customer experience (ala Apple, Emirates, Zappos, Zara and Virgin) and literally understands and then manages the expectations of the prosumer. This idea does not seek to segment customers by circumstance, but categorizes customers on the basis of need. This picture emerges – Outside-In:

By understanding customer needs, even when they may not know themselves, and developing appropriate products for your chosen categories of customer, the world is a simpler place. Yes you do also need to be flexible and agile to preempt (and for the best create new needs) however the starting point isn’t the product and the market. It is the customer and their needs.

Creating the necessary skills and competence to achieve Outside-In and deliver consistently improving results requires this foresight and understanding. The previous approach is as obsolete as the horse and cart is to the electric car.

So how can we do this? More on that soon however as a starter you can download a complimentary copy my book “Outside-In The secret of the 21st centuries leading companies” here.

Also join us and the global community exploiting the benefits of Outside-In:

LinkedIn: BPGroup

Twitter: @stowers  @jdodkins

More soon as we journey Outside-In.
Ciao, Steve

Certified Process Professional® Update – October 2012

iPad3’s / Advanced coaching / Videos /Articles/Downloads
Welcome to this bite sized update
** BP Group CPP Advanced Master® & Champion® **
New sessions for wannabe Advanced Masters and Champions

You can now pre register interest for upcoming classes. If you are already a Certified Process Professional review the upcoming Advanced/Champion sessions in New Zealand, UK, USA, South Africa and UAE:
** BP Group professional accreditation **Not yet professionally qualified? Review upcoming sessions from:
Register for a class before year end and enter the draw for an iPad3 – one per class!!
** Winners in the iPad3 ** draws from August and September were drawn in London on October 1st.
Congratulations to the 11 winners – (listed in the closed area)
** Interesting Resources **
Successful Customer Outcomes Six Sigma on Steroids (keynote presentation)
What would Steve Jobs have done?
Big companies can’t innovate halfway
** Review the videos – insights and suggestions J **
A couple of recent interviews and session highlights:
** BP Group is on Linked In company pages **
Linked In now have company pages, and yes the BP Group has its own! Early days however have a look and follow us from:
** PEX ANNUAL US Conference **Have you a story to tell? Do you need to know the latest? – register for Orlando in January here:
Catch you soon, all the Best

Three part webinar OUTSIDE-IN, Discovery, Understanding and Implementation

This next few weeks sees a rush towards Outside In with several books in the pipeline from academics, researchers and practitioners. Both Forrester and Gartner join the fray next month following existing publications from Wharton, Harvard and Sloan Business schools.
Not to mention of course our very own Outside In – The Secret (published in 2010).

What is the fuss all about? Find out how you can embrace all that is Outside-In in this snappy, to the point webinar by yours truly 😉

>>>>> Please register for Outside In 101 – A three part programme <<<<<

Discovery – Understanding – Implementation

Part One: Discovery
What is Outside-In (OI)?
Why is OI the preferred choice for the 21st century leading companies?
How does OI fit with other process approaches?

Part Two: Understanding
If OI is so good why isn’t everyone doing it?
What are the direct benefits of OI?
Who is implementing OI and how does it compare to the Old Ways?

Part Three: Implementation
What can I do to implement OI?
How do I get started?
How do we take others on the journey?

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Steve Towers | | SVP & Founder |
BP Group, New Bond House, 124 New Bond Street, London W1S 1DX
Offices in London – Houston – Denver – Bangalore – Sydney – Associates in 118 countries
Office: US: +1 303 800-0924 | UK: +44 20 3286 4248 | Fax: +44 20 7691 7664
Mobile: +44 7429 518277 (worldwide) | | Blog: |

Latest Video:
Recent visit to UK PM’s office:

Six Sigma on Steroids – Keynote from PEX

Steve Towers with six sigma on steroids

The Focus has shifted from Inside-Out to Outside-In

I am frequently asked to summarise the difference between the inside-out industrial/information age mindset, and that of Outside-In (think Apple, Google, Zara, Zappos, Emirates etc.) thinking and practice. So here to answer that request (and from a section in my upcoming new book) is the overview.

Over the following weeks we will delve into each area and I will provide examples and case studies of each aspect of this Copernican shift.

The Focus has shifted from Inside-Out to Outside-In

Industrial/Information Age Customer Age

People Silo’s Multi functional
Specialist Multi skilled
Isolated Relationships
Awards – Time served Awards – Value Created
Autocratic Dynamic (to suit the needs)
Processes Doing things right Doing the right things and doing things right
Manufacturing mindset Customer Experience
Tasks/Activities and Outputs Outcomes and SCO’s
Stocks Flows
Products Services
Left to Right, Top to Bottom Customer Centric
IT Algorithmic Heuristic
Hierarchical Hyperlinked
Analytical Understanding
Ownership Access
Strategy Top Down Inclusive
Structured and Rigid eg 5 yr plans Agile and Adaptive
Tablets of stone Continual Alignment to SCO’s
Market/product focus Customer/expectation focus
Customers Uninformed Prosumer
Loyal Promiscuous
Forgiving Rebellious
Locked-In Demand Flexibility
Compliant and managed High Expectations and fickle
Single channel Multi channel
(c) 2012 Steve Towers

Next week we’ll start by reviewing the Customer Aspect

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Reduce Costs – Improve Revenue – Enhance Service simultaneously

From the PEX Network event in Florida, January 2012. Ten minutes 🙂