The Mutual Benefit of an Outside-In View

by | Dec 3, 2021

Recently, members of the Graphic Communications Leadership Institute conducted a plant tour of an innovative, growing printing and marketing services company in Florida. We divided up into two teams and were led on a tour of the entire facility by two senior executives of the host company. At the conclusion of the tour (about 90-120 minutes in duration) we gathered in the company lunchroom for refreshments and an overview by the founder and owner of the business and for presentations by members of their senior team.

To say there were questions from the GCLI members would be an understatement. For some, (but not all) this was their first real visit to another graphic communications company, and they were intent on making the most of it.

Each member was provided with a feedback form designed to have them offer (in writing) their observations, thoughts, ideas, suggestions, recommendations, and questions. The interactive portion of the visit was dynamic as this highly engaged group sought more in-depth information into how the company functioned, their workflow, their systems, compensation issues and the way they went about recruiting and retaining their top talent in a hyper-competitive marketplace.

At the conclusion of our visit, we asked the GCLI members for their feedback and their thoughts on the value the visit brought to them. Their response was overwhelmingly positive, no surprise there. We also asked the senior executives of the host company, once they had a chance to review the written feedback forms and to reflect on the day. They were appreciative of the quality and usefulness of the feedback, questions, comments and suggestions they received from the group. Seems they were made aware of some items they could change or improve, many with little investment in time and/or money. The questions they heard from the group led to questions of their own about why they did some things and didn’t do others.

Given the day to day demands inherent in custom manufacturing, we often overlook ideas for improvement and our own adherence to outmoded ways of doing things. An outside-in view from a group of objective professionals can provide an invaluable, unbiased and actionable path forward to improved processes and better business results.

For more information about the Graphic Communications Leadership Institute and for a free copy of the GCLI plant tour feedback form, contact me at


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