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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Extraordinary Times Call For “Outside-In” Thinking

This changing world is in a time of crisis, but shifting priorities mean that it is also a time of new opportunities. It requires us to reset our dials, to rethink our business, and open our eyes to the new business world, to the New Normality.

This is called “outside-in” thinking. It enables us to make sense of change, and seize the best insights and ideas to drive innovation and profitable growth.

Here are the ten “outside-in” principles that will help you to thrive in the new business world normality.


1. Find the best markets for growth. Growth is no longer about selling more of what you have, or making your existing assets work harder. It is about finding the markets with most potential. Look across continents and sectors. Don’t be limited by what is comfortable or close.

2. Explore the new business landscape. Business can no longer be parochial. We all operate in global inter-connected and inter-dependent markets. Power has shifted from West to East, from big to small, from business to customer. New priorities like social and environmental issues drive out agendas too.

3. Live in the customer’s world. Thinking like a customer is liberating. Take off your business blinkers and see what matters to customers. Talk to them about their dreams and priorities, rather than products and prices. They will be more engaged too.

4. Treat customers as individuals not averages. We often seek to create average solutions for average customers. No wonder nobody is really delighted. Think about your customer as a real person. Learn about what drives him or her deeply.

5. Don’t sell products, deliver experiences! We see the sales transaction as the culmination of our efforts; for the customer it’s just the beginning. Go beyond that little bit of after-sales support to deliver experiences that are personal in solutions and style, that will endure over time.

6. Do business on their terms, not yours. Why should I want to read a random piece of irrelevant mail from you? Why should I come to you? Learn to engage and interact on customers terms – what, when, where and how they want – to make their life easier, not just yours.

7. Enable customers to achieve their dreams. Customers have ambitions, or at least problems to solve. That’s what they’re really interested in. Your products and even your services are just a means to address these. Enable them to do things faster, better and bigger than they ever thought possible.

8. Embrace networks and partners. Physical and virtual networks are prime opportunities to connect with customers, embrace and build communities, connect with partners who have difference capabilities and relationships, and reach new places.

9. Be more emotional and energising. Business is about people engaging with others. People are inspired by those who have a vision, those who can make sense of complexity and those who understand them best. Find ways as a leader and as a business to engage your staff and customers in more emotional and energising ways.

10. Don’t be the biggest - be the best. In a changing business world, the emphasis has shifted from scale and volume to relevance and difference. The profits are to be found in niches. Loyalty lies in personalisation. Embrace new opportunities first, new marketing techniques and new technologies. Leverage the power of the web.

For more information, contact us at ivan@maa-uk.co.uk or ivan.goldberg@vistage.co.uk and check out our websites at

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