The great 'Outside-In' debate.

Adam Deane has started an interesting debate over at his blog on the subject of outside-in.

His comment - and one I tend to align with - is that outside-in is a nebulous concept and one which is very difficult to pin down in real life. He states that he has been unable to identify examples of where Outside-in has specifically benefited an organisation. The companies often noted as being OI exemplars (Best Buy, Apple, Southwest airlines) are also ones that benefit from having a good underlying product. Therefore is this a case where OI has given them the edge or where the edge has been there already and OI has piggy-backed into it?

My personal example - and one which I stated In the comments to Adam's post - is Ryanair. They are deemed to have successfully emulated good customer outcomes through OI, and yet they have the worst service of any airline I have ever flown. Craig, The Process Ninja, comments that customer outcomes and customer service are not the same thing, and maybe this is where my understanding falls down. But is it just the case then, that OI is merely any BPM practice which looks at the customer when creating processes?

Regardless of this I would recommend you head over to Adam's blog, have a read of the entry and decide for yourself whether OI is a genuine BPM discipline, or just a different way of looking at something that's already there. Make sure, too, to read The Process Ninja's rebuttal.

I'm really, really on the fence about OI. If I look at something like Six Sigma (or 8 Omega) I can see a strict methodology and something that I can put my hands on and say 'This is ....(fill in the blanks)". But if I try to do the same for Outside-In I can't. The Process Ninja himself states that "Whilst I agree that outside-in is a philosophy, it is more than that and I understand Adam's frustration in not being able to get a hold of "a methodology". In the deep recesses of my mind I can't help but think that OI is a generic term given to any company that happens to be doing well.

The other thing I can't seem to get over is that there doesn't seem to be any comment in the blog from anyone who is an OI guru. There are one or two comments from people who have done the training course, but nothing from the people who create and propagate this 'approach'. I would really like to get some impartial advice on this rather than comments which just tell me I'm wrong. The last thing we need is The Zealots coming into this with their "I'm right and you're wrong" approach.

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