The Battle Against Outsourcing

Seth Godin blogs about some of his predictions for the future. There's one that's particularly interesting to me.

Prediction: The effort required to outsource a task involving the manipulation of data of any kind will continue to decrease until it will be faster and cheaper to outsource just about anything than it will be to use in-house talent. What will you do today to ensure your prosperity when that happens?

I think Seth is dead-on with this prediction. Here are a few tips on how you can stay prosperous despite this trend:

  1. Get closer to the core value of your business. Your goal should be to either build or provide the product or service that your customers pay for; or to sell the product or service that your customers pay for. If you're an accountant at a construction company, you're doing neither. And it's only a matter of time before your job gets outsourced. Get on the front lines. Be an accountant at an accounting firm so that you grow as companies outsource.
  2. Focus on the right things, the valuable things. Every quarter list the things that you do that can't be outsourced. Find a way to double the amount of time you spend on those things.
  3. Innovate, innovate, innovate. Innovation is hard to outsource. Cheaper, faster, better, more efficient, more scalable. Every week give yourself an "innovation score" (from 1 to 5); answering the question: How well am I doing at continuously and radically innovating on the work that I do? If you're scoring a 4 or a 5 then you're way ahead of most workers, and you're in a great position to prosper. But don't forget, do this every week.

Finally, above all else, think like a CEO. Every quarter assume your CEO is asking the following question: How could I go about outsourcing [Your Name]'s work? Use the tips above to make it impossible.