Cupcakes, Handcuffs and IT

I saw a fascinating chart recently on the three main types of organizations: customer inward, interaction and organization outward.

Customer Inward

Customer inward organizations have service propositions that have benefits for engaging. Customers follow a journey, though they may join at different states. Changes occur at the transition points, and customers must have on ramps to join the process. Customer inward organizations can be likened to handcuffs, because they have tight restrictions on what customers can do and how they interact with the product.
In my opinion, IT could be considered a customer inward organization. The customer benefits by adopting a software application in the form of efficiency, better record keeping, streamlined business processes by eliminating redundant data entry or automation. Customers face transition points like the first installation of the tool or upgrading it. They have on-ramps when they first sign up for a cloud service and set up their online backups or migrate their data from one application to another.


Interaction organizations bring value through memorable experiences. They have concise guidelines for how people interact with the brand no matter where they do so or how they do it. Changes occur in the interaction, and the end result is the customer’s relationship and its state at the end of each interaction.
In my opinion, schools fall under this category. Children enter at different ages and abilities. There are set guidelines in the form of the curriculum and measurements in the form of testing. The customer, the student and/or his family, is altered by the experience.

Organization Outward

Organization outward companies are based on generating business value when the customer does something the organization considers beneficial. The core components of the organization and their relationships are the same no matter where the customer comes into the flow. Change is tightly planned new interactions that balance scope with delight. Organization outward groups are considered to be cupcakes. The intent is to wow the customer, within constraints like budget and available inventory. Giving a customer an extra dollop of cream or a personalized design is encouraged for this type of organization as long as it doesn’t interfere with serving the next person in line in a timely manner.

Looking for Feedback

Which of these three types of organizations do you consider software providers to fall into today? Where would hardware fall in this list? And where would you like to see software vendors move to?