23.9.08

The last bit of my BC talk

As frequent readers will remember, I've been posting about my recent talk at Boston College. Previous excerpts are here and here.

This is the last such excerpt.

After talking to the students about a framework to understand global outsourcing and then speaking about the way a leader should look at the job of managing a global team, I tried to impart some lessons-learned. Since much of this content has been covered previously in this blog (look for the "best practices" tag), I'll be brief. I said, with supporting anecdotes in most cases, the following:
  • Managers can delegate authority, but not responsibility. This is often lost on neo-mangers, who will point to the outsourced team and blame them for problems without understanding that they themselves are responsible for the actions of the vendor team.
  • People are not capacity, even though it's seductive to talk and write about "labor pools." Humanize your team. Try to know them by name. Put them on your organizational chart as people, not as "capacity blocks."
  • Communication is made slightly tougher by distance, and tougher still by cultural and linguistic differences. Don't let this overcome you, but adapt: Remove idiom from speech, use good communication tools and technologies, and always seek written confirmation of verbal communication.
  • Use checklists for high expectation tasks. Make tacit knowledge explicit where ever possible.
  • Building a global team, whether insourced or outsourced, takes time. Don't give up before you start to see return on the investment. Avoid "shiny object syndrome."
  • If you want to be "faster, cheaper and better" be ready to answer the question "...than what?" Measure your operations, and use those measurements to inform your outsourcing governance.
  • People fear outsourcing. They fear difference. They fear losing their jobs. They fear competition. Understand that fear, but don't be mastered by it.
Lastly, I presented my belief that outsourcing is its own extant body of knowledge. I used this graphic, directly from my current sales pitch for my consulting business, to illustrate the fact that there is a lot of complicated knowledge hiding behind the simple decision to outsource something...
Judging by the Q&A throughout the presentation, and the people who grabbed me at the end to talk one-on-one, it was a successful presentation. Hopefully, these blog posts captured some of that.


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