The value of an outside-in perspective

Following my article: Reflecting on the past 365 days! I’d like to deliver here some reflections around the following…

The value of an outside-in perspective

The concept of taking an outside-in perspective to leadership and management first started gaining traction around 2010. At that time, George Day and Christine Moorman published their book “Strategy from the Outside In”, explaining the value of strategy development based on market insights and customer value. The book gained massive success for its insights into how companies such as P&G ride out the storms of multiple market down cycles and somehow remain profitable.

The concept of taking an outside-in perspective to leadership and management first started gaining traction around 2010

In 2011, renowned psychologist Daniel Kahnemann published his bestseller “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. In the book, he told a story about a group he had previously worked with, which had made some errors in forecasting due to an inward-looking approach.

Kahnemann’s story made a compelling case for collecting as much external information as possible to aid the process of making decisions. Not just strategy-level decisions as in the 2010 book, but as Kahnemann himself said: “the argument for the outside view should be made on general grounds”.

Recently, I’ve been considering how learning the value of the outside-in perspective has guided my career journey from the corporate world to full-fledged entrepreneurship.

Breaking Silos for Better Decision Making

During my corporate career, I had the opportunity to create and facilitate a discussion forum for peers in the risk management area, many of whom were working in large Swiss companies. The forum was very well received among the colleagues who attended, with many people asking for repeat events or organizing separate meetups. The main reason the event was so successful was down to people from different organizations, and across different sectors, finding common threads in the discussions.

The opportunity to talk to people who had a different perspective gave participants fresh ideas about how to approach their own particular challenges. In some cases, understanding that others share the same issues gave participants some reassurance that their problems weren’t unique, echoing Kahneman’s advice about collecting external metrics in order to define your own yardsticks.

The reactions from the forum participants gave me a deeper understanding of the value of developing connections across boundaries. The experience gave me a more profound realization that working without silos isn’t a nice-to-have — it’s a key enabler of effective risk management.

Leveraging the Entrepreneurial Mindset

When I left the corporate world to start my own consultancy business, an inevitable part of the journey to becoming an entrepreneur involved changing my mindset. A corporate entity operates on rules, policies, procedures and fixed governance processes that are (to a greater or lesser extent) documented, known and followed by everyone. While these rules are necessary to running a company, they can also have the unfortunate side effect of limiting creative thinking.

As an entrepreneur, there are no rules, no policies or procedures or instruction manuals

As an entrepreneur, there are no rules, no policies or procedures or instruction manuals. I had to navigate my own way through all the new and unfamiliar activities involved with setting up a business from scratch. While it can be daunting at times, it’s also exciting. I found that with total freedom to operate, I could think more creatively. I developed the mindset that nothing is impossible and became more proactive in bringing my ideas to fruition.

With this shift of mindset, I decided that I wanted to funnel my energy and experience into some kind of a platform for risk professionals to share knowledge and expertise. Recalling my experience with the discussion forum and throughout my professional life, I’ve always enjoyed and found value in developing networks, connecting other people and creating a sense of community between peers.

Connecting people across boundaries

So, the idea for Risk-!n came about, thanks also in part to my associate Antoine Lacombe who persuaded me to step out on a limb and start this new adventure.

At the time we were very open-minded about the direction Risk-!n might have taken. Thankfully and to my delight, the first event was a resounding success. We had close to 200 participants from three continents representing multiple industry sectors. 98% of participants said they would attend again, and 98% also said they would recommend the event to a friend. Suffice to say, I’m very much looking forward to opening the doors on the second Risk-!n conference just two months from now.

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Seeing through the eyes of others

Over the last decade, the value of the outside-in perspective is better understood and accepted, and not just on the macro level. Collaboration is more powerful when individuals and teams within an organization take an outside-in view of their own work.

Building connections, talking to those outside of your regular circles and finding common threads all help us as individuals to gain an outside-in perspective. Seeing through the eyes of others enables us to find new ways of solving problems, driving decisions and taking action.

This is the guiding principle of the Risk-!n event – breaking down silos to better manage risks. Across two days, participants from different disciplines and organizations will have the opportunity to share experiences and learnings in the areas of risk, resilience, insurance and, security. Registration for the 2019 Risk-!n conference is now open and spaces are selling out fast. Make sure you register today to secure your spot!

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