Are the Best Company Cultures Internally or Externally Focused?

arrows pointing to the best company cultures

Best Company Cultures
The best company cultures attract and retain top talent while simultaneously making it easy to execute their business strategy.  We define company culture as the way things get done in an organization on a day-to-day basis – especially when no one is looking over your shoulder.  It is the way employees behave on the job and is based on intangibles such as the pervasive values, beliefs and attitudes that characterize a company and guide its practices.

What the Best Company Cultures Deliver
Our organizational alignment research found that the best company cultures account for 40% of the difference between high and low performance in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer loyalty, employee engagement and leadership performance.  The best company cultures act as the glue that aligns a company’s business strategy with their people strategy.  The best company cultures are a strategic asset.

Company Cultures Vary
From one company to another and even across different regions and functions, there can be a variety of workplace cultures.  How would you define your predominant culture?  More structured or fluid?  Healthy or toxic?  Risk averse or risk-taking?  Collaborative or siloed?  Fact- or intuition-based?  Internally or externally focused?  There is no one single correct answer.

The most important cultural question to answer: is your culture helping or hindering your business strategy?

Internal Company Cultural Focus
We define an internally focused company culture as one in which internal processes, systems, and employees matter most.  They often expect partners and customers to conform to their way of doing things.  Examples include Walmart, the US Postal Service, Ikea, and Union-based shops.  Internally focused leaders feel that they are better at controlling costs, engaging employees, and scaling.

Many companies who focus internally strongly believe in the service-profit-chain theory which links employee satisfaction directly to higher levels of customer loyalty and profitability.

External Company Cultural Focus
An externally focused organization typically emphasizes external forces, market share and customer experiences.  Examples include Amazon, Southwest Airlines, and TD Bank.  Externally focused companies put the customer at the center of everything that they do and feel they are better suited to deliver extraordinary customer experiences and stay ahead of emerging opportunities and threats.

As a way of doing business, customer-centric companies excel at proactively anticipating client needs with the ability and genuine desire to help.  And it matters.  According to the Harvard Business School, companies that increase customer retention rates by just 5% increase profits by up to 95%.

Are the Best Company Cultures Internally or Externally Focused?
One company culture is not better than the other.  They are just better suited to support different business strategies.  This is where too many HR leaders miss the mark.

Company cultures are not necessarily good or bad.  They are aligned or unaligned.  The best company cultures are purposefully designed to accelerate their specific and unique business strategies.

Do You Have to Make a Choice?
Yes.  But on a spectrum.  We believe that leaders should agree on where and how far to directionally lean across four focused-based cultural dimensions to ensure that their culture is 100% aligned with their go-to-market strategy.

1. Customer Needs versus Internal Processes?
Are you more willing to change internal processes to meet customer needs or do you expect customers to modify expectations to conform to your way of doing things?

2. Maximizing Revenue versus Minimizing Costs?
Do you need to pay more attention to increasing revenues or minimizing costs?

3. Customer Solutions versus Internal Systems?
Should you focus more on perfecting and improving customer solutions or on perfecting and improving internal systems?

4. External Focus versus Internal Focus?
Does it make more sense to focus on external sources or internal sources of information?

The Bottom Line
The clearer you can be about where you need to be culturally on each dimension vis-à-vis your strategic plans for success, the easier it will be for people to agree upon how the important work should get done in a way that makes sense.  This sets you up to align your culture and your talent with your strategy to outperform your peers.

Is your culture helping or hindering your strategy?

To learn more about how to build the best company cultures, download How to Create a Purposefully Aligned Culture

Facebook Twitter Google+ Email LinkedIn

Comments are closed.

In the Next Generation Management Development courses, I was trained with skills and tools that have made me and my team more productive, motivated, and successful at communicating with other departments.


Kevin Ashman
Firmware Engineering Supervisor

Harmonic has worked with LSA for over 8 years. We have found their partnership extremely beneficial. We recently implemented a Management Development Program that was designed and customized to support our company’s strategic initiative of hiring, building, and retaining key intellectual property and human talent. We worked closely with LSA to target and implement the right solutions with the greatest impact. I would recommend LSA to any company that’s looking for a trusted training and development partner.

Janice Passarello
Director of Human Resources

SeaTel has found our partnership with LSA Global to be very valuable and beneficial. We turned to LSA to customize a supervisory/leadership solution to meet our needs. LSA delivered a customized top quality solution. I’d recommend LSA Global to any company looking for a best-in-class training and consulting partner.

Kortney Riddle
HR Manager

Here’s a token of my appreciation for ALL your efforts. I’m offering my most sincere appreciation, and it extends to all the folks who made our customized management development programs possible.

Susan Anderson
Workforce Planning Bureau

Understanding and conforming to legal compliance was very important to our company. We turned to LSA Global to provide a quality and cost effective way to ensure that we were AB 1825 compliant. Their interactive eLearning program was top-notch. It allowed our managers to learn at their own pace, and on their own time. The program was tailored to include our logo and our internal harassment policies. It was interactive and met all federal and state legal requirements. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company looking for an efficient and effective and top quality way to train their managers to be in compliance.

Kelly Warren, SPHR
Director, HR & Compliance

Working with LSA Global has proven to be extremely valuable and worthwhile. LSA understands our business, has deep expertise in content areas, and tailors the programs to deliver great results. The facilitator was extremely knowledgeable about Working Globally with India and her energy and passion made the session interesting, fun, and enjoyable for all that attended. The participants walked away extremely pleased along with highly useful practices and tools. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company that has partners or offices in India.

Glenn McGillivray
Human Resources Business Partner


For our go to training outsourcing partner, LSA provides exactly what we want. As always, they deliver outstanding work!

Elizabeth Siebert
Director, Organizational Excellence & Development


I continue to be impressed by the level of leadership development and management expertise and quality of advice and facilitation that LSA has to offer. What a smart and client-centric group of great people who really know how to help leaders attract, engage, develop and retain top talent.

Tracy Esposito
Director, HR Business Partner

The Managing Virtual Teams program was extremely valuable. Your consultant/ facilitator’s fundamental knowledge of Synopsys as a company provided an incredible base to build upon while tackling the complications of managing and working with globally distributed teams. My team walked away walked away with highly useful practices and tools. It was an excellent use of our time.

Debra Martucci
Vice President, Information Technology

LSA exceeded all my expectations. We interviewed 7 potential training and consulting partners and selected LSA due to their expertise, flexibility, and breadth and depth of solutions. We were able to construct a management training course from the modules most appropriate to our needs, and are able to provide additional training from their well developed portfolio of experts. Our managers galvanized as a team throughout the session and are better prepared for the rigors of a competitive market.

Mitch Mandich


We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.

Rae Phillips
HR Project Manager - Training & Development, PHR

I had been working with LSA for many years with my prior company. Currently, I’m with a company who hadn’t done much basic management skills training. After identifying and presenting a program recently, our managers are excited and talking in the halls about the great experience. LSA saves us time in delivering the right training for our needs.

Phyllis Moracco
HR Director

LSA provided top notch solutions right when and how we needed them. They exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and cost standpoint. I recommend them to anyone looking for a true business partner in the Learning and Development arena. The breadth and depth of their expertise has helped us hit tight deadlines across multiple projects.

Fortune 500 Financial Services Company
Director of Infrastructure & Technology

LSA’s consultant designed and delivered a half-day team building solution for our recent conference. It included careful customization to integrate the design with our new mission and values. Everyone had fun and identified key issues with our teamwork. Altogether a great program!

Bob Ward
Director of HR

I am very impressed with the quality of work and talent. LSA did a great job of listening to my needs and providing the exact management training program expertise I needed to get the job done.

Don Pryor
Director, Business Planning & Analysis

Evaluate your Performance



Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.


Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.




Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.




First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.



Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.


Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.