02 November 2005

Outside Person/Inside Person

The Jenius has long subscribed to the entrepreneurial theory that successful companies have an "Outside Person" and an "Inside Person."

For fans of the original Star Trek TV series, just think of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. The reason Kirk could gallivant across the Universe and still be the captain of a gazillion dollar starship was that he always knew Mr. Spock was on the bridge, holding down the fort (so to speak.) Even when they were both away from the Enterprise, Kirk looked at the big picture and Spock kept a keen eye on the details.

In essence, the Outside Person is the social/horizon type, dealing largely with matters outside the business' function and the Inside Person is the operations/hands-on type who guides the day-to-day production. These are general descriptions and there is some overlap, but one thing is certain: both are needed to develop a successful company.

Outside Persons often lack the patience and discipline to tend to details and processes. Inside Persons tend to prefer step-by-step progress and thus often move too slowly to make best use of opportunities. That is why both types are needed in a business: one seeks to fly, the other makes sure the engine and landing gear are in working order.

Neither type is better than the other. Too many Outside types ignore the need for an Inside Person and they end up crashing. Many Inside types ignore the need for networking and sales (Outside strengths) and doom their businesses to a lingering death.

And no, one person can't do both jobs and still expect the business to grow. These "One Man/Woman Shows" are hyperkinetic, frenzied disasters. It takes two persons, or more, to balance the Outside and Inside matters for proper growth. The rare person who can do both (and these are very rare) must decide which role s/he will perform within the business, and stick to it at all times.

Think of Outside/Inside as Yin/Yang, or Extrovert/Introvert, Sales/Accounting or On-stage/Backstage. No matter how you describe it, one person--the Outside type--is the public face and the other is the "internal power." Success on a grand scale is only possible when both are present.

If you find a strong complement to your type, make the most of it. You will be in a position to discover that 1 + 1 can really be much much more than just 2...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

1 comment:

Aníbal said...


Such excellent insight, and of course you are right!

The post inmmediately made me think about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak; (Jobs=outside/The Woz=inside). Also about Paul Allen(inside) and Steve Ballmer(outside). There must be others, but I'm too lazy to WikipediA them.

Though I can't help but think about Bill Gates. And the recent post you did with the keyword AND... Isn't BillG both an inside and outside person?

What does the readership think?