“The question that drove my research and became the organizing principle in this book, is this,” Caraveli tells readers in the introduction: “What kind of choices make one organization succeed and another fail in our economy, in which victory and defeat can be declared or reversed in a flash of a second?”
In this book, The Demand Perspective: Leading from the Outside-In,” Caraveli builds on the research of Ranjay Gulati, the Jaime and Josefina Chua Tiampo Professor at Harvard Business School and expert in business growth in turbulent markets, who set about to answer similar questions when, starting with the economic downturn in 2000, he followed the performance of a group of companies for nearly a decade.
The difference-maker between resiliency and obsolescence, he found, was a company’s market orientation: whether it was focused inward on its own products and priorities or outward toward its customers and markets (inside-out). He concludes that:
Those companies built around an inside-out mindset—those pushing out products and services in the marketplace based on a narrow viewpoint of their customers that looks at them only through the narrow lens of their products—are less resilient in turbulent times than those organized around an outside-in mindset that starts with the marketplace, then looks to deliver creatively on market opportunities.
Caraveli reaches similar conclusions with regard to associations. She modifies and applies the inside-out/outside-in framework to associations to uncover systemic and embedded factors that put the conventional association model at a competitive disadvantage in today’s market.
She uses a host of cases across industries to illustrate how an organization can successfully organize around customers and enter an entirely new phase of growth and higher levels of performance. She demonstrates how recast and reinvent the foundational building blocks of organizations—modes of thinking, member/customer engagement and relationships; value proposition, business model, leadership models and culture—from the market’s and customers’ perspectives to shift one’s role from “nice to have” to “indispensable.”
She lays out various options of road maps to customer centricity and uses practical examples, tools and exercises that can be applied immediately to begin the journey from inside-out to outside-in.