In the Preface to The Outside-In Corporation: How to Build a Customer-centric Organization for Breakthrough Results published by
McGraw-Hill (2005), Barbara Bund explains, “The primary objective of this book is to help business managers use [her various] insights effectively in practice. It is to share the outside-in discipline — to provide a road map for managers to follow in creating and leading outside-in corporations, even in organizations where the unfortunate inside-out perspective has prevailed in the past.”
In essence, “outside-in” means that the most important decisions that a company’s leaders make are customer-centric and take into full account the realities of the given competitive marketplace.
Bund recommends checking your organization for the following healthy signs of outside-in behavior:
• Employees throughout the organization have clear ideas of who are customers are and, broadly, what we do for them.
• Although employees in different roles and at different organizational levels have different depths of understanding of customers, the employees’ views of customers are generally consistent with one another.
• We have clear, explicit, understandable “pictures” of customers.
• Those customer pictures provide clear, explicit reasons for our marketplace strategies and actions.
• Our top managers have lots of contact with customers — and they know how to listen.
• Lots of other employees have substantial contact with customers — and they learn from their contacts.
• We capture the learning about customers and incorporate it into our evolving strategies and actions.
Credited by Philip Kotler with popularizing the term “relationship marketing,” Bund specializes in marketing strategy, as a consultant and Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. As explained in her most recent book, The Outside-in Corporation, she focuses on the challenge of driving an organization’s marketplace strategy and tactics clearly and explicitly from the perspective of the customer — from the outside in. While acknowledging that the outside-in perspective is often difficult to achieve and maintain, she argues that it is also critical to marketplace success.