Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

When What Is Best For Business Is Wrong For You

Outsourcing takes many roles, has many faces. My father and my mother-in-law have some very fundamental things in common. They are unaware of this, and if aware both would most probably resist the comparison. When presented with the existential option of doing what would best improve the chances of business survival (outsource) or remaining true to an existential value, both chose option ‘B’.

My Dad had a business making a product where domestic production was disappearing. Faced with this reality (my Dad was a very good businessman—this reality did not escape him) he simply could not abandon the people who worked for him or the community in which they all worked. He did not outsource, and one by one they were bled away, a workforce of 800 slowly reduced to 250 or so, until there was nothing left to do but leave the business.

My mother-in-law Sandy founded and ran an alternative school in the 70’s. When we met in the 80’s the school was on solid ground, but no money was being made and the prospects for growth that would keep the school on solid financial ground were limited by the founding principles. I chatted with her about how she could generate more money in order to safeguard the school (and her) financially, specifically by “outsourcing” her resources to a more affluent clientele (wealthy homeschoolers, foreign exchange students). The mere thought of making decisions with revenue as a goal was so anathema to her that she categorically refused to even have the conversation. Now she has to consider selling the school.

Lesson? There are really hard choices before us, not only in business but also in life. There are always consequences from the decision, even when we are so sure that we have been true to some core, essential, existential truth. We can simultaneously win and lose.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which is which.


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