From Great at Work, which is now the best book on personal effectiveness I have ever read:
As our study suggested, we should evaluate the value of our work by measuring how much others benefit from it. That’s an outside-in view, because it directs attention to the benefits our work brings to others. The typical inside-out view, by contrast, measures work according to whether we have completed our tasks and goals, regardless of whether they produce any benefits.
This may seem obvious in retrospect, but how many of us intentionally work this way? It is so easy to get caught up in accomplishing tasks, defining our productivity that way, rather than defining it in terms of the benefit our work actually brings.
If we take this outside-in view, I see two benefits. First, we will have more success in our jobs. That seems obvious, right? Second, we will be able to become more efficient, because now we have a criteria that allows us to identify unnecessary tasks or unnecessary steps in our tasks.
Beyond this, the outside-in view is very much in line with the gospel ethic, which is others-centered.
There is one nuance, of course: do not let this stifle innovation or too easily justify the status quo. You know the benefits of your work by how people act, not mainly what they say in response to your initial idea. Focus groups, for example, are usually a bad idea. As Henry Ford said, “If I had asked the public what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” What actually produced the greatest value was when Ford democratized the automobile — something people weren’t asking for initially.