Man Outsources His Own Job – gets caught!

CaptureThere was a fabulous story on the BBC this week.

Here’s the nutshell –

A US-based software developer who works from home outsourced his job to China without his employer’s permission.

He’s paid $100K + by his employer. The outsourcing costs less than $30K. So he nets $70K + and has complete control over his time.

Because he is not stupid…

…he has more than one of these jobs and outsources each of them. So he makes a pile of money. But…

Because he is not that clever…

…one employer finds out, he gets sacked (rightly) and the whole gig unravels.

What he should have done, instead of FedEx-ing his company computer access fob to his outsourced Chinese partner, and in so doing breaking his terms of employment and compromising his employer’s security, was to promote his ideas to his boss until he got the corner office and the golf club membership…

And if his employer was not amenable to this pitch, he could have set up his own telecoms outsourcing consultancy and made a pile that way.

Anyway – thanks BBC – it’s a good story that confirms a lot of what is changing in this world – stuff that offers opportunity for us all…

What this might mean to you…

Outsourcing to China works not because wages are cheaper (they are…just), but because when you proceduralise the essence of how you deliver your value and ask someone to do just that and nothing else – no long haul travel, strategy meetings, fire extinguisher practice, rubber chicken dinners…the outsourcing economics do work, largely because it’s just sooo productive and there’s no long haul travel, strategy meetings etc etc…)

The power in this for you is immense. Even if you do not outsource. If all you do is define your value, work out its means of delivery (the high-payoff activities I always bang on about) and then hone how you do these activities and spend lots of hours on them, you will be upper decile in all industries I have ever come across. You will have a glittering career and that has significant personal benefits.

And if you’re lucky, self-employed and what you’re doing is scalable, i.e. you can find many “yous” to outsource to, and there are the clients to consume the output, then you are onto a winner. You have taken yourself off the critical path. Your sweat is no longer central to your success. You have crossed the Rubicon. The die is cast.

Now there is stuff you cannot outsource…

…or maybe should think carefully before outsourcing, like defining your direction for the next 2 years, or deciding when something isn’t working any more. Strategic stuff largely. But the operational stuff, the delivery of the value – that can usually be outsourced.

An example…

I have just outsourced something myself. It is a task that produces something of huge benefit to my customers but is tedious and repetitive to me. In preparation for outsourcing, I defined in gruesome detail the task that needed doing. As I was doing this I discovered a way to do it better. Also, in following my own process as a test, my error rate plummeted. I then outsourced the whole thing to someone who is delighted to do it (and probably more temperamentally suited to it than me). As a result, I actually feel lighter with the weight of this thing off my shoulders, I can do other stuff and the customers get a better service.

A test…

You should be able to outsource the operational part of your job right now.

I am not saying you should do it, or indeed are allowed to, but you should be able to instruct a third party on how to do your job. Because that would show that you understand how you do what you do (most people do not in sufficient detail.)

If you are clear on how you deliver your value and therefore you are able to focus on it, you can go places.

Consider the alternative.

Our outsourcing guy in the BBC story had the right idea. It’s just that his execution was rubbish.

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