Outward Looking – Inward Looking, Both are Imperative
We know about organizations because of what they do. Organizations prosper because of what they do in the market, with their missions, in the press and in the public.
But an organization, for-profit or non-profit, exists because of what it is.
The public work of an organization, its recognition in the market, is headed by the most important person in the organization, the Outward Looking executive. Usually the CEO and/or the founder, this is the woman or man who is featured in the Business Times, heads the annual meeting, and greets the important visitors to headquarters. And is usually the one who developed the product, set the vision, and maintains the grand view of the future. Without the the role of the Outward Looking executive, an organization has no reason to exist.
But without the Inward Looking executive, the Outward Looking executive is too much tied up with day-to-day detail to be able to think big, to reach out, to develop the place for the organization to have impact.
The Inward Looking executive creates and maintains that organization, becoming the glue that holds it all together. He or she builds the institution that supports the Outward Looking elements as they design products to meet markets, develop donors, build market relationships, build volume, build a place in the world.
Sometimes called the infrastructure and sometimes called the grunt-work, there must be the elements that we often take for granted: the maintenance of the building, the striping of the truck lanes, the computers at each desk, the monthly financial reports, the friendly greeting by the receptionist at the front door, the constant additions to or replacement of personnel, the compliance with government regulations, the designing of roadmaps to the future of the vision.
It is a huge responsibility to run an organization so that it can be effective within its market, with its customers, with its investors and/or donors, for its prospective customers. Choosing the person to head that function is one of the most important parts of being the Outward Looking executive. Once that choice is made, the job becomes to honor that role, helping keep it on track, but, fully empowering the Inward Looking executive to gain the two major benefits from it: having someone in charge providing all of the support necessary for Outward Looking functions and to have the Outward Looking executive free to pursue the vision and all of the public aspects of the company.
Of the four M’s necessary for successful growth: Market, Management, Model and Money, the Market is an external factor. The Model, the design of the organization, rests in collaboration between the Outward and the Inward Looking executives. Execution of that Model, Management, then becomes the responsibility of the Inward Looking executive. With those three in place, the Money will follow naturally from the efforts of the CEO. With Management strongly delegated to the Inward Looking executive, the CEO can then go about the execution of the vision, responding to the Market, and, building the organization with the time and confidence necessary to do so.
Without the infrastructure, without the existence of the organization, there can be no future for the vision; with someone looking inward alongside of some looking outward, all becomes possible.