Thursday, August 10, 2006

Rethinking the Act

I remember watching plate-spinning acts on television as a kid, holding my breath, waiting for the wobbly dish to crash to the floor and feeling the rush of relief as the performer got to the china in the nick of time. These days, who among us hasn’t felt like the performer in a plate spinning act, trying to give every critical function or process the attention required in this increasingly complex business environment? I was thinking about plate spinning on a particularly hectic day and it came to mind later in relation to a discussion I was having about outsourcing.

Outsourcing, as we know, is paying outside experts to do work once performed by company employees. Companies outsource human resources, advertising and public relations, accounting and, more frequently today, manufacturing and packaging. Marketers save money on equipment and labor, using those resources instead for the critical product development, sales and marketing functions.

What are the business challenges that are making you consider outsourcing? What skills or functions are you looking to have done outside your organization? What do you think is the future of outsourcing in the beauty industry?

Incidentally, plate spinning goes back 2000 years in Chinese culture. Fifty years ago, people thought the art form had peaked and could not be innovated, but not so. It seems that the best of these performances today include two or more people spinning plates and doing other acrobatic feats AT THE SAME TIME. Maybe that means there’s hope for all of us—we just have to find the right partners and rethink the act.


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