Managing outsourcing and shared services: the end of faith-based management?

By September 30, 2010January 3rd, 2022Archive

Outsourcing or offshoring require a radical adjustment in management style—from situational response to managing by fact; from keeping the team on the straight and narrow by walking around to living by governance structures that don’t come naturally; from calling Susie down the hall to formally logging and tracking a request; from communicating in “corporate speak” shorthand to being forced to convey a request or a complaint in complete sentences.  With apologies to George Bush, does the adoption of shared services and outsourcing represent the end of “faith based management?”

Look beyond the common, publicly declared rationale for choosing not to outsource or set up shared services.  Lack of provider prowess, or fear of customer backlash can certainly slow down a companies’ evolution to another target operating model.  But I suspect the most significant deterrent may be the inability to evolve the management culture to function in this brave new world called service delivery globalization.

Most managers learn to manage by honing their perceptions within the context of their specific corporate culture. Based on what we intuit about the organizations we work for, we are able to game situations, fit expectations into describable slots, understand when and how to mete out rewards or punish deviance from the norm. We know how far to bend the rules. And we burn in our psyches the unwritten  do’s and don’ts  represented by the name on the pay check.

Enter the era of sourcing work globally–and  the “faith-based” management style we’ve been practicing within the proverbial four walls of our organizations no longer works. We have to think about the fact that our interactions have  consequences such as price and scope creep. The party across the table is now empowered to say no, backed by the force of contract or an agreed service level. 

Do you think inability to change management style is an impediment to outsourcing and shared services implementation?

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