The BIGGEST secret to successful outsourcing is…
Well, think about it… What matters most with your outsourcing? How would you make it more effective and efficient, so there’s as few cock-ups as possible?
There are a few other things that matter and that can have a big impact, but nothing matters more than this one…
If you get this wrong, your project, task or business could go seriously off the rails.
Get it right, and everyone is singing from the same hymn-sheet, all pulling together.
The devil is in the detail. And the exact specifics will change for your specific situation, team and project. What is the best method of communication? What are the timescales? How will the team inter-communicate?
Sometimes a management software is best, sometimes just good old simple Skype.
But there are some overarching general rules to work through.
The main one is to be aware of the “The Curse Of Knowledge“. The curse of knowledge is a “cognitive bias according to which better-informed agents find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed agents”
So you already know what the plan is, what the project is. Your team doesn’t. People in general have a tendency to assume that others know or will understand quickly what the plan is.
Unfortunately, that is often far from the truth.
The best way around this is to really try to imagine that you know nothing of the project. For sake of example, let’s imagine you have a training document for your outsourcing team. If you knew nothing, would you understand the objective and the tactics, or what you are trying to say?
Are you assuming something within the document?
It is quite difficult to do this – to empty your knowledge from your head. A simple way around this is to ask your friend, partner, spouse, someone you can quickly ask and isn’t going to charge you for their 5-minute input. Ask them to read the document, and ask them
What is the main objective – the end-goal?
What exactly is to be done, step-by-step?
A helpful method to work through with all of your communication is to lean on your Six Soldiers. I actually created this image for my daughter, to help her with her homework Research. It is pinned to her wall. The same 6 Soldiers can help you communicate more effectively…
(This is from a poem by Rudyard Kipling)
And yes, you are welcome to print this image out for your own use or use it on your own site. Any link back to this page would be appreciated.
So to help you make it as clear as possible for your outsourcing team, ask yourself if you have made each part clear.
- What is to be done?
- Why is it to be done (overall objective)?
- When is it to be done? When to start? When is it expected to be completed?
- How is it to be done (the tactics, the details)?
- Where is it to be done? What website, what page, where should the finished item be put?
- Who should do each part?
If you ask yourself as many variations of these 6 questions of what, why, when, how, where and who, you will make your communication clearer and hence more effective.
Kill The Ambiguity
The English language is a wonderful thing. It is rich, with many layers and levels of consideration. But that is not a plus-point for effective outsourcing communication. Consider this sentence…
“The image position – is it right?”
Do you mean right as in “not wrong” – or right as in “not left”?
For greater clarity, I would use either…
“The image position – should it be right or left?”
“The image position – is it correct?”
How would YOU say it?
Another classic example of an ambiguity-magnifier is the “Do you know if…?” question.
“Do you know if the email was sent?”
How would you answer that? What if you heard a reply saying “Yes”…
Does that mean “Yes, I do know” – or “Yes, the email was sent”?
A better answer would be either “The email was sent” or “The email was not sent”.
If you find yourself about to ask the “Do you know if…” question, stop and think of a better way to word it. Maybe “I’m unsure – did the email get sent?”
That is the kind of ambiguity that crops up often when communicating with an outsource team. Thing about how your words might be misconstrued. How might they interpret what you are saying as something else?
If you are constantly thinking about this, trying to be less ambiguous, and thinking through if there is a second or third meaning to the words you are using, and making it single-purpose, then you will be stepping towards effective communication.
Good luck – and remember – it is an iterative process – you get better and better at it over time.
What do YOU think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, on Facebook, Twitter. Use the social buttons to let us know what you think.
Want to find out the other Outsource Success Secrets?
Get full access to all ten of the BIGGEST outsourcing mistakes – click this big button…