Sustainable Growth:

Searching for Opportunities

Outside-In Company

Discovering Growth Opportunities by Looking at Your Business from the Customer's Perspective

By: Vadim Kotelnikov

Founder, Ten3 Business e-Coach Inspiration and Innovation Unlimited!

"Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction." ~ Kenichi Ohmae

Looking From Outside In

By Masaaki Imai2

Understand what's going in the real world – ask these searching questions relentlessly:

  1. What's happening in your marketplace?

  2. How the needs are changing?

  3. What's causing the changes?

  4. Where are the resulting opportunities?

Having answered the above questions, work backward:

  1. What needs do you satisfy now?

  2. What need could you satisfy now? In future?

  3. What's the gap between them and what you do now, and how to bridge it?

  4. What advantages and internal capabilities do you have? What advantages and capabilities do you need to create?

  5. What old competencies do you need to deemphasize?

Creating Great Customer Value: 9 Questions To Answer

Yin-Yang of Value Innovation



Developing Sustainable Growth Strategy From the Outside In


The real world strategic thinking is both imaginative and highly disciplined. Outside-in thinking can transform businesses that are "commoditized", "mature" or otherwise supposedly without growth prospects.

Customer Care

Surprise To Win

3 Strategies of Market Leaders

In the outside-in company, as opposed to inside-out one, the key word is need, not product. Their people think expansively. They observe people, "they're totally immersed in the minds of their customers, looking for ways to expand demand. Their business plans and value propositions derive from the marketplace, based on the knowledge gathered at ground level. Often, the needs they define haven't yet been identified by the customers themselves."1

A sustainable growth strategy of an outside-in company "starts with understanding the difference between what you make and what people need – which often turns out not to be the same thing. Tapping your resources of energy and imagination, you look at your company from the perspective of your once and future customers, and asking endless questions about what's going on in the real world."1 Having stepped outside of your business, then work backward to ask questions about your business to find out how you can pursue the market opportunities identified... More

Customer Success 360

 Case in Point  3M

Ram Charan and Noel Trichy1 in their book Every Business Is a Growth Business write: "Many companies have seemingly done well thinking from the inside out. 3M achieved legendary success as an innovator by giving its people room to develop their ideas in quasi-entrepreneurial fashion. For years, it ranked among the leaders of FORTUNE's list of most admired companies. But during the first half of the 90s, 3M grew its top line less than 4% despite the brilliance of its entrepreneurial technologists. There wasn't enough feedback from the marketplace – missing were the insight into the customer's mind, and the intuitive observations about needs that could have translated inventiveness into powerful growth." In late 90s, new leadership got the company back on track with outside-in growth initiatives.




  1. Every Business is a Growth Business, Ram Charan and Noel. M. Tichy Jennings and

  2. Kaizen: The Key To Japan's Competitive Success, Masaaki Imai

  3. Value Innovation, Vadim Kotelnikov

  4. Customer-driven Innovation, Vadim Kotelnikov

  5. Innovation Is Love, Vadim Kotelnikov


  1. Winning Customers, Vadim Kotelnikov

  2. SMART Business Architect, Vadim Kotelnikov

  3. 3 Strategies of Market Leaders, Vadim Kotelnikov