Outsourcing – The Elephant in the Room

Outsourcing is often represented in the popular media as an approach for cost-cutting in large organizations at the expense of job loss in various sectors. As these facts stand, they represent only a small part of the whole picture. It is, of course, a sensitive subject–emotions rage over outsourcing on blogs and in other media outlets. With all due respect to to workers who have lost jobs, I humbly request you to stand back and try to look at the bigger picture.

To help make my point, I wish to cite the story of four blind men attempting to comprehend an elephant by touch only. One stated that an elephant is of cylindrical shape, the other insisted that it is long and rubbery, another maintained that it is just a huge bulging structure, while the last insisted it is only a few inches thick with hairs at the end.

Like these men and the elephant, we often have a largely blind approach towards outsourcing. Each person in the above story is correct in his own way, or, should I say, from his perspective. But it takes vision to put the pieces together and arrive at a complete picture that conveys each perspective as part of the whole.

There is a historical precedent for this kind of response. When the industrial revolution was first in progress, machines were sabotaged. The working class believed that their employers would maintain their output volume by using machines and cutting labor. Why would any company maintain a steady volume, if they can double it with the combined efforts of labor and machines in half-time? Even though the industrial revolution saw job cuts during its initial days, it was only a transitional period. Later, more factories began to emerge and a larger work force was employed to run these machines, thereby increasing the productivity volume.

It may sound preposterous that job-cuts as a result of outsourcing are only transitional. But I have come across both people who have lost jobs on account of outsourcing as well as companies calling back employees to handle responsibilities that augment increased productivity. The catch is the company might not call back an employee for the same exact role. There will be a redefining of roles and responsibilities.

So, the onus is on us to understand and foresee these changing roles. This requires a paradigm shift of our mindset and our approach to the issue. Although this might be difficult given the current circumstances, it is not impossible. Resilience is the need of the hour.

We respect your perspective, but humbly urge you to hone the vision that will allow you to see other perspectives, too. Share your perspective with us, and we will share ours. Perhaps we can piece the elephant together and succeed at taming it too.

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