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Bagels & Biz: The Question We’re All Asking...Or Being Asked

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

A New Year has begun, and we're off to the races executing new strategies, launching new products, and building new teams. Wouldn't it be nice to have a bigger budget, more resources, and deeper bench strength? Sure it would. Sadly, the question we're all asking, or being asked, is "how do I do more with less?" The answer: You outsource.

Outsourcing is not new, but it is being used in new ways. Strategic leaders are finding that the "how do I do more with less?" question isn't actually about getting more blood from a stone at all. It's really about "how do I do more with less...time?"

Time is the scarce resource in the knowledge economy. When you can shrink time, the speed at which you can execute increases.

What if you completed the project in 3 months instead of 6? What if you hit your growth targets in 9 months instead of 12? What if you came to market with your new stuff in 6 months instead of 18?

Would that help your career? How would that help your company achieve its goals?

When there's a fire to fight, the need to move quickly is obvious. But strategic leaders increase speed when things are going well too. Especially so. The question my CFO is very good at asking when he sees something working well is:

"How can we move faster?"

So, how can you move faster? The answer: You outsource.

Here's the math formula:

Speed = distance traveled / time

Let's get algebraic and break this formula down further with an example:

A few years ago, I led a $2.5M services engagement for a banking customer. We completed the work in 6 months. At dinner one evening, the executive sponsor shared that they looked at performing the work themselves, using their in house capability. They estimated it would take them 2 years to complete and 30% higher cost.

Increase Distance Traveled. When you strategically outsource, you get the innovation and progress the company has already made on Day 1. With the right partner, you also get their future roadmap. The technology investments we had honed over several years drove immediate leaps in service capability for this customer.

Decrease Time. Traditional management thinking is that you should never outsource your core competency. But in the knowledge economy, this is less true than ever before.

When you break free from the "do it yourself" mindset, you realize that your core competency is more about assembly, not manufacturing. And this shrinks your time requirement.

Apple doesn't build iPhones. Boeing doesn't build planes. Amazon doesn't deliver packages. They all assemble.

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others." - African Proverb


If you want to go fast and far...Outsource.

Become an assembler. Think about your goals for 2021. Where can you outsource to increase distance and decrease time? Your career and your company will thank you.

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