Spend any time surfing the blogosphere and you’re likely to come across Seth Godin, a blogging pioneer and virtual legend in the virtual world of cyberspace.
I’d call him one of the Internet’s foremost philosophers of the moment and an adviser on subjects such as personal and corporate responsibility, thinking beyond the box, taking risks and doing it all ethically and collaboratively in a world that often seems to be moving rapidly away from those values and is stuck instead on self-interest and greed.
His message has great resonance for me and for the transformational potential and message that Vested Outsourcing brings to business and outsourcing.
His posts are usually pithy, very much to the point and often quite profound. For example one of his recent posts on ‘Failure, success and neither’ talks about the magical math that comprises failure or success: “You can pile up lots of failure and still keep rolling, but you only need one juicy success to build a career.” But the thing that kills the equation is accomplishing neither: “If you spend your days avoiding failure by doing not much worth criticizing, you’ll never have a shot at success … and yet we market and work and connect and create as if just one failure might be the end of us.”
In another post from last year called ‘Dancing with entropy,’ Godin wrote that it is “far easier to mix up a Rubik’s cube than to solve one. People are often paid to enforce compliance. The job is to ensure that everything is in its place, that errors are zero; that things are delivered on time and as expected. The random event is a problem, something to be feared an extinguished.”
Godin’s thought meshes with one of the 10 outsourcing ailments that I call the Activity Trap (#3), which can make a transaction-based outsourcing contract less than successful and less than satisfactory, neither an outright failure nor a success.
What usually happens in many strictly-controlled, transaction-based arrangements is that the more transactions that are performed, the more money the outsource provider will make, so there is no incentive to reduce the number of transactions through innovation, creativity and the maximization of tools, efficiency and expertise, because that will result in less revenue for the outsource provider.
No contract, taken in isolation, can be perfectly written or ordered, nor can it account for every outside market change, political event or natural variable. Things change; a transaction-based deal that works fine one month might be totally inadequate 10 months later.
That’s because entropy is inevitable, no matter how carefully planned or constructed a system may be. Entropy is a term that describes how organized or disorganized a system is – it increases as information declines, for instance; as random variables increase, so does the amount of uncertainty. Basically, in an isolated system, be it in nature or a contract, there’s a tendency to move from order to disorder over time.
Godin says that the people with the best jobs “are in the business of dancing with entropy, not creating it.”
That’s the secret inherent in Godin’s message and in committing to a vested, collaborative and outcomes-based relationship: “Take what comes, sort it, leverage it, improvise and make something worthwhile out of it.” That can’t happen very smoothly in a transaction-based, zero-sum, junkyard dog relationship.
“The secret of dancing is that you must respect and admire your partner,” Godin continues. Entropy needn’t be the enemy, because without “random events, there is no dance.”
And no fun. So my advice is not to change partners if the steps become too random, uncertain or difficult: exercise some trust and rationality, and find the best way to dance with them.