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Outside-in Business Relationship Management - Turning Relationship Managers into Digital Leaders

Value Centric Leadership / 25 Mar 2014 / By Alex Mayall

LEF’s Business Relationship Management (BRM) education programmes have long encouraged participants to think outside-in – that is, to look at their organization’s business and its challenges from an external perspective. 

When Kirt Mead and I launched the Outside-In BRM research project late last year, we saw this as a logical extension of the LEF’s earlier thinking as illustrated in the figure below:

Our initial interviews with advanced companies have already shown the impact of outside-in trends to be even more significant than we had anticipated.  This has been confirmed by the results of a recent international survey of IT executives conducted by the LEF.

Information technology has undoubtedly become the primary driver of business change in today’s world.  Its pervasive influence has changed the basis of competition in virtually every market sector; it has empowered customers and consumers to the point where co-creation of products and services has become increasingly common; it has encouraged companies to look outside their own boundaries for sources of innovation; it has led to the fragmentation of organizational models and the creation of technology-enabled business ecosystems; and it has created unprecedented threats to businesses and governments through the disruptive activities of hackers, fraudsters and hostile agencies.  This is the true scope of outside-in.

To help organizations address this bewildering range of IT-enabled opportunities and threats calls for interventions that build on, but move beyond, business relationship management capabilities.  What is needed is ‘Digital Leadership’, and the focus of our research will now shift towards fleshing out what this means in practical terms for the BRM function.   Because we base our research findings on real cases, Kirt and I are keen to interview CIOs, CTOs and business leaders of large companies and government agencies that can provide powerful examples of the exercise of digital leadership in the context of the BRM function.  If you would like to learn more about our research findings to date and contribute your views, please contact me at



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