Friday, March 11, 2011
As the leader of the outsourcing initiative, after signing the Master Service Agree (MSA) you just want to “get to work”. It makes perfect sense – to you. However, consider for a moment what “get to work” means for your outsourcing partner. Even if your partner is co-located geographically, the corporate culture, leadership model, decision-making processes and basic organizational structure are all likely to be very different. These differences are even more pronounced when the partner is offshore.
Realizing how that one phrase, “get to work” could be interpreted differently by both organizations, how do we get the newly formed unit to work together, ramp up quickly, enable knowledge transfer, ensure alignment of goals, encourage self-monitoring of milestones and ultimately hit the targets agreed upon in the MSA? I recommend two must-do’s: 1) research and 2) alignment.
First, do your research to understand your partner. Research on a Fortune 500 organization is relatively easy, companies are ranked based on many parameters including revenues, corporate governance, sustainability, equality, diversity and the like. Discover where your partner organization is headquartered. The Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, an organization advocating for stricter implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption, is a good place to start for internationally headquartered organizations. Once you understand this larger picture, dive deeper by connecting with cross-industry colleagues to gain an insider’s perspective. Better yet, leverage the most-often missed pool of knowledge by canvasing your internal associates to understand your own enterprise-wide history with the partner.
Second, starting from this knowledge base, align with the partner on multiple levels: a) goals; b) structure; c) reporting relationships; and d) communication model to launch the initiative and see it through to completion.
Goal - This may be common sensical first step, but surprisingly it is often missed. The team lead’s role is to hold the team ABLE to achieve alignment, and drive the goal through the entire project. In order to achieve this, create shared ownership of the goal by enlisting key leaders within your partner organization to co-author components of the plan. Research in the communication field, particularly by Charles R. Berger’s Uncertainty Reduction theory, demonstrate that a key component in a team dynamic is curiosity - resulting in strategic questioning that enables better planning and ultimate execution of that plan.