There is so much to fix and manage inside the organization that the task could be never ending. Soon, and easily, one could find oneself 90% or 100% focused on the inside. Inwards management, or whatever you want to call it. It’s a big risk and one almost inevitable.
That is why a constant reminder of the purpose of the organization is needed. Without that, the customer-centrism stuff would be lip service, pharmaceuticals would be run with nobody pronouncing the words health, or patient, or, say, transportation with no mention of customers, other than the numbers in the spreadsheet. Exaggerating? Perhaps. But the risks of collective ego-centrism are always there.
It’s not enough to bring the customer language in, but it’s a starting point. It’s also about having the ‘but what is the purpose?’ question very clearly upfront.
In our Viral Change™ Platforms we often have simple behaviours such as asking ‘what would the customer think of this?” or even ‘wait a minute, why exactly are we doing this?’, looking at purpose, high or low. These (disruptive, often in all senses of the word) questions are powerful to redirect the focus from the inside (the navel-gazing/nombrilisme) to the outside.
I am not a fan of Time Management techniques. It’s personal! But very often the breakthrough in this switch of thinking has come when I have asked the client to record what he or she does (or collectively as a leadership team) for a week, and then realized that close to zero time was dedicated to ‘the outside’, whether the client or the higher purpose. Although intuitively people tend to know that, being confronted with the ‘recorded reality’ is always shocking.
If the inside competes with the outside, don’t let the self-absorption/nombrilisme win. It’s a battle for which you need to be prepared.