Insourcing. Why It Beats Outsourcing

August 23, 2007 § Leave a comment

At 7 am, once a week, across New Zealand, a group of
between twenty-thirty people assemble.

These groups of people don’t belong to a sect.
They have no secret handshake.
No password or code.

They’re simply networking.
So what makes this group so interestingly different?

The difference is insourcing.

So what’s insourcing?

Well, it’s kinda like the other side of the outsourcing coin, you could say.

Outsourcing says: Go ye, into the world, and find some one to do what you do.

Insourcing says: Go ye, amongst thine customers, because they want to pitch in and help you do what you do.

Huh? Customers pitching in to help you?

Well, that’s exactly what happens at the 7am hour at Business Networking International Groups (BNI Groups) across New Zealand.

One of the thirty people runs the hour long networking event: He/she is called the President. In case the president doesn’t show up, there’s the vice-president (who has his/her own duties regardless).

And there’s a treasurer.
A visitor host to help newcomers settle in.
A networking educator who um…educates.

And no one gets a salary.
No one sends in an invoice to head office for work done.
And I know it’s sounding crazier by the minute, but it’s true.

BNI groups put self-interest below group-interest

That is why you’ll find that every member of the group acts as a sales person. Every member tends to want to bring in more members to enrich the group. Every member helps out in the running of the group where possible.

And while the president, vice-president and treasurer get a rebate on their membership, no one else gets paid. Yet they happily participate and grow the business, without asking for a salary or reward.

This is the concept of insourcing.

And this concept isn’t new.

Even as a child you could go back to a point in time, where your parents threw a party. And no, they didn’t have fancy-schmancy caterers. And they didn’t cook most of the scrumptious food either.

Instead all the guests pitched in.
Each of the guest loaded the groaning table with yet one more dessert; yet another salad; yet another lip-smacking dish.

Your parents were no dopes.

They realised they could do it themselves; They could outsource; Or they could insource.

And they did what Wikipedia does

Wikipedia insources. is an online encyclopaedia
started by Jimmy Wales in the year 2001.

And as of today, Wikipedia has more than 1,920,000 articles on subjects as varied as you can probably think of. Of course, this
mountain of articles is just in English.

There are 534 000+ articles in French.
260 000+ artículos en Espanol.
242 000+ artiklar in ze Swedish.

And yup, as you guessed there are hundreds of thousands of articles
in Italian, and Polish, and Marathi, from countries and languages
you probably even haven’t heard of yet.

Heck, try outsourcing a job like that!

Every day tens of thousands of Wikipedia ‘editors’ (what else could you call them?) scour the pages, adding information, updating information, and fixing information that’s been defaced. And these Wikipedia ‘editors’ can and do fix pages online, simply because they’re allowed to.

For a large part, the system gives an average Joe the ability to post and update information. And it’s all done by ‘customers’ who are interested in keeping Wikipedia going.

So why would your customers be interested in keeping you going?

I mean, why would they ‘work for you?’

Contrary to what you believe, customers are more than willing to
pitch in. We’ve all grown up to believe that somehow we’re driven
by our selfish desires. And God knows we are. But there’s a group
desire that is bigger than our petty wants. And that group desire
understands and recognises the need to pitch in—without a fee.

You may not believe this to be true.

But ask a customer to proof-read your report, for instance. And
they’ll do it. Ask for volunteers if you need some technical help
on computers. And you’ll get it. Ask for ideas on how to improve your business, and a wall of suggestions will warm you like sunshine
on a freezing day.

Your parents were no dopes, but you sure are!

You are so very enamoured by the great world of outsourcing, that
you’ve forgotten what it is like to insource. You’ve excluded your
customers from pitching in. You’ve shut the door on not just volunteerism, but technical expertise.

Many of your customers are technically superior to both you, and your
‘outsourced person.’ And these customers are more than happy to pitch in. But you won’t let them.

Well, in our business we let them.

Customers act as guides to new customers.
Customers upload information to our servers and notify other
customers about updates.
Customers trawl through our website and spot errors, and help us fix them.
Customers make hundreds of suggestions to fix our business—knowing we will do our best.
Customers help at our workshops, doing various tasks (and we
do ask for volunteers).

This, my friend, is insourcing.

It’s what your parents did at the summer party.
It’s what Wikipedia, iTunes, and hundreds, if not thousands of businesses do all the time. It’s what religions have been successfully doing for thousands of years. It’s what those twenty-thirty people do at every 7 am meeting at BNI, week after week after week.

They’re insourcing.
And you’re not.

Well, about time to change your ways, don’t you think?

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