An Encore Posting of my Rant about Outsourcing…er, sorry!…Co-sourcing

Carrie, the host of Carrie’s Nation got me thinking about several themes I ranted about in my last two posts. To complete the trifecta, I’m going to rerun my post from back on June 9, 2007. It’s filed under the Never to Amaze. I believe the theme is as relevant now as it was was then. Please enjoy!

Read this discourse! There’s no recourse. We must co-source with no remorse. Understand? Of course!

Like the alliteration? I thought about using the title of this post as lyrics to be sung to the theme music from the old Mr. Ed TV show. Unfortunately, this is serious matter and there will be ample cynicism and great dose of sarcasm included in this multi-pronged rant. Prepare for a tirade!

The sterile and cleverly worded memo just came out. Headquarters has decided to “co-source” many of the back office functions. Thirty to forty positions are about to be cut and the work sent overseas. I guess these are just more jobs that Americans don’t want to do! Hmmm!

The propensity of corporations and consultants to create new words is absolutely amazing! Perhaps you’ve already seen or heard of this one. I must admit that “co-source” is new one on me. Not that I haven’t already seen the English language bastardized over the years by the corporate jargonistas.

I can almost forgive turning nouns into verbs and vice versa. Ever notice? You used to perform a “task” but now you’re “tasked” to perform. You used to “go get” something but now that something has become a “go get.” These are only minor irritations and relatively benign. It’s the use or creation of words to obfuscate or to suit some ulterior motive that really gets my goat.

In the old days, you’d get “volunteered” (we’d call it “stuck”) to work on a special project or take on a new duty. Today, you “champion” it. This, of course, is meant to make you feel as if it’s an honor and you have been chosen because of your Herculean strengths and abilities. When the project is completed (no matter what it takes on your part) you are to feel as though a laurel wreath has been placed on your head. Conversely, in the old days, if you balked at being volunteered because you had neither the time nor the resources to complete the project, you were told to “suck it up and just get it done”. Today, you’re admonished for being a “victim” or having a “victim mentality.” How about those loaded words for making you feel bad about yourself if you even think about voicing any dissent? In any event, old days or today, you’ll still get stuck with the project or duty and your reward will be getting stuck with more. This clever use of words is meant to somehow make you feel differently about it.

So “co-sourcing” has replaced “outsourcing” as “rightsizing” has replaced “downsizing” as “downsizing” has replaced “force reduction.” Feel better now?

Back to the memo. So now we enter into a discussion of how the firm needs to remain competitive, blah, blah, blah. Of course this is meant to “educate” the affected employees on the “big picture” and the “global economy.” Mind you it’s NOT that the company is losing money or has experienced some major set back. NO, it’s just a new program dreamt up by some corporate level whiz-bang who will be receiving a big bonus payout for cutting costs. Knowing the minds of these headquarters types as I do, I imagine that this education is being offered to obtain the reader’s “buy-in” to the program. “Buy-in” is another term that has been overused and twisted to suit the needs of these self-serving bureacrats.

When I was growing up, one’s “buy-in” meant agreement because one had been CONVINCED about something. Many of today’s so-called business leaders believe that simply providing information is the same as CONVINCING one of the merit of something. It’s quite a leap of logic but not beyond their arrogance. After all, they have provided the information. How could one NOT be convinced of its merit?

In the final sentence of the memo, the author thanks the employees for their continued support. Yes, now that you understand, just keep working hard until you’re gone. It’s the right thing to do after all. Don’t you agree?

I asked a few colleagues their opinions about the tone of the memo. There was general agreement that it was not solely intended to communicate the program or even the make affected employees feel better about having their jobs eliminated. It was also meant to in someway make the author feel better about having to publish the bad news. Poor fellow! I guess that the word “co-source” makes him feel more kindly about the whole thing.

The deed will be done and the people will hit the streets.

At least the author could have the guts to shoot straight with the employees. Oh! Here’s more alliteration to add to the title – OUR MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE!

PS There’s more to come on this story. The project is now being implemented but not without major problems. Seems that the brainiacs who concocted it forgot a few important details.

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One Response to “An Encore Posting of my Rant about Outsourcing…er, sorry!…Co-sourcing”

  1. Carrie Says:

    It seems quaint, but I remember reading articles in the early 1990’s indicating that management experts were still debating the merits of outsourcing (or cosourcing, whatever). Now it seems to be a given that job functions must be out(co)sourced out as much as possible.

    And how about this, where the backroom employees do not have “co-workers”, they have “customers”. If they cannot satisfy their “customers” then their work will be outsourced.

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