Haphazard Outsourcing


    Watching a movie on a plane is a haphazard affair. The casual strollers amble up and down the narrow aisles, taking their perambulations; friends catch up with acquaintances, all the while blocking one’s view of the show; flight attendants hand out water and hot towels. If I didn’t know the story of Pride and Prejudice, my impression from watching it during a recent international flight would be that it told the tale of five screaming girls, their muttering father and their aggravated mother and the people who enter and depart their lives with little reason and no rhyme. Mr. Darby would have all the motivation and charm of a UPS driver delivering the Christmas boxes.

    I have the sense that outsourcing is likewise a pretty haphazard affair in most organizations. The ordinary person — whose job may be affected, whose life may be turned upside down — frequently can’t follow the storyline because the details are few. Why? Because senior people are typically so lousy at communication.

    In the rarified air of the executive offices, fashioning PR quotes and hobnobbing with other “suits” is often deemed more vital than spending time on a regular basis sitting down with people on the line — and those who manage them directly — to talk out the who, what, where and why of outsourcing plans.

    Big mistake. Present-day service results can suffer. Good ideas for making the process more effective could be left on the table. And the risk exists for creating unmitigated disaster — at great and unexpected expense — when the transition finally begins.

    Recently, I was doing some interviews for the analysis of a survey that will appear shortly on the site. As one interviewee said while complaining about the lack of communication provided by executives in his former company, "There’s a whole compelling story between the beginning and end that needs to be understood."

    If you don’t want your outsourcing initiative to end up being as dissatisfying an event as a movie watched on a plane, make sure you start telling the story at the beginning and put as much effort into the telling as you can manage. Even if you get some of the details wrong, the audience will be able to follow the heart of it — and that’s what they’ll take away.

    For more on showing honor in your outsourcing efforts, read this article here on Sourcingmag.com:

    Outsourcing with Honor: Personnel Matters