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Use Outsourcing to Learn How to Do-It-Yourself

Feb 25, 2008
Years ago, many service organizations jealously guarded their expertise from their clients. The thought behind this caution was that otherwise you would lose the opportunity to sell the same expertise over and over again to that and other clients. The best a client could hope to do was to hire some people from the service organization after the engagement and hope to transfer needed skills and knowledge that way.

Knowledge and skills become obsolete very rapidly now. Many such service organizations realize that they will have to add totally improved skill sets every few years. Under such circumstances, the chances to resell the same expertise to a client are more limited. If the client wants to learn those skills, that's often a bigger assignment than merely applying the skills once for the client. As a result, more kinds of expertise can now be learned from state-of-the-art practitioners in service organizations.

From the client side, these frequently expensive learning programs can be a turnoff. The courses often take lots of time, and the learning can be rapidly lost if the skills aren't used every day.

A better approach is to establish internal positions that require the new skills and knowledge, and then hire service organizations to work as part of the teams with those in the new positions. By learning on the job through the teams, people in the new positions will become productive sooner. By having experts available to your people on a daily basis, knowledge transfer will also be accelerated.

Sometimes your organization doesn't have enough skill to pursue the approach just described. When that's the case, you can still arrange for those you want to become more effective to shadow the service organization while it does its work.

At a minimum, this activity will help improve the focus onto what your organization wants to accomplish. External experts may know their fields better than you do, but you know your organization and the stakeholder needs you serve better than the experts.

If there is going to be an ongoing need to collaborate to add new knowledge and skills, consider a joint venture as a way to facilitate that learning. Many people believe that such combinations have to become large entities before anyone will pay adequate attention.

Contrary to that belief, most prosperous joint ventures work well because of long-term relationships among people in both founding organizations. If you focus on putting the right people together and give them interesting things to work on, you'll be surprised how productive even a small joint venture can be.

Volunteering for nonprofit organizations is increasingly used to develop executive and management skills. When you enter a nonprofit organization, you find yourself in a world where there is usually high motivation and few resources.

If you can succeed in a nonprofit organization, you gain an understanding of how motivation can make a difference in your own for-profit organization. Someone who works in a nonprofit organization is not likely to understand how you access major resources.

Have nonprofit personnel perform volunteer work in a for-profit enterprise, and new perspectives will soon be apparent for how to assemble and apply resources. A wise organization may realize that there are great learning benefits from having appropriately related for-profit and nonprofit entities that work in mutually beneficial ways.

For instance, imagine that your organization needs more information technology (IT) workers but is based in a community that doesn't have enough information technology training available. An allied nonprofit foundation could pursue ways to add more training while developing foundation leaders and enhancing the training of entry level IT employees who come to work for you.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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