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Inside Vs. Outside The Wall: 3 Questions To Help You Avoid The #1 Mistake Of Fast Growing Health & Fitness Companies

By John Berardi, PhD

Hiring and Training

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As companies grow, it’s natural to turn their eyes toward systems and team development, what I call “inside the wall” activities. This is a good thing, of course. However, too much focus on these, at the expense of “outside the wall” activities, can lead to fast failure. Here’s how to avoid that fate and build toward a bigger future.

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Are You Still Thinking About Your Clients and Customers?

As companies grow it’s natural to focus on the development of team members, on how those team members will work together, and on the systems they’ll use to standardize their work and produce reliable results.

This is a good thing.

However, as layers of management are created, professional managers and executives can sometimes spend too much time thinking about what’s happening “inside” the company vs. “outside” the company.

This means more and more time working on “how folks work together” and less and less time on the actual work itself.

It also means more time considering the needs of the people inside the organization and less time considering the needs of clients and customers, the people who make the entire organization possible.

Inside The Wall vs. Outside The Wall Activities

To this end, I like to think of companies as castles with walls separating the inner workings of the castle from the outside world.

Outside the wall is the content you put out into the world, including your products and services. It’s also where your customers live, how they experience your products and services, and how they perceive your company. Things like:

  • editorial content,
  • advertising,
  • sales,
  • marketing, and
  • user experience.

These are all outside the wall activities.

Inside the wall is your team, your processes, and your policies. It’s how you are together and how you work together. Things like:

  • leadership,
  • management,
  • human resources,
  • internal communications,
  • values statements, and
  • mission statements.

These are all inside the wall activities.

As you grow it’s important to make sure you don’t take your eyes off what’s happening outside the wall, which is very easy to do.

I often call this “playing company.”

It’s where a disproportionately high amount of your resources go into business plans, budgets, spreadsheets, slide decks, meetings, and “sync-ups” while too little goes into understanding customers, serving them well, selling them great products, and curating your reputation.

3 Questions To Balance Inside vs. Outside The Wall

To make sure you find the right balance, ask yourself:

  • How much of my own personal time is being spent on inside the wall vs. outside the wall work?
  • How many of our team members are doing inside the wall vs. outside the wall work?
  • How much total time is spent thinking about ourselves and how we work together (inside the wall) vs. our customers and what they’re thinking, feeling, and experiencing (outside the wall)?

Of course, it’s okay for some weeks to be out of balance.

However, when teams become so enamored with “working on ourselves” that they chronically neglect “working for the customers,” companies fail fast. That’s why it’s important to always get back into balance.

If push comes to shove, and you need to choose one even over the other, what’s going over the wall should win out. Because, without customers giving you money, there’s no castle, no wall, and no one inside it.

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