Following on from my previous blog about a feature story in The Economist title Workers on tap, I read an article from a business I met at a EuroCloud event last year that builds on this new labour market dynamic.

In the article it stated that in search of zero inefficiency businesses were turning to outsourcing and crowdsourcing.  The business in question is Blur.  It goes on to make some observations that you may agree or disagree with, notably:

‘What interests us about outsourcing is not so much the physical redistribution of labour, but the intellectual one. Where do good ideas come from? Well, it’s rarely from within. Not because payrolled staff don’t have the creative talent, but because proximity to a problem can reduce one’s ability to find a solution. You can’t see the wood for the trees.

Accenture recently researched this area and discovered the majority of innovation is created by service providers or a joint effort between the client and the supplier. Only 17 % of innovation came from within.

At blur, we have a one in 10 rule. Only one in every ten people working on our business is working in our business. By adopting this policy, we have effectively increased the brainpower of the business 100 fold. In a business like ours intellectual capital is everything, so idea farming is a key part of our business strategy.’

I’ve just completed a project by outsourcing the development of a web site and what I read above rings true, at least for this project.  Ideas came from the in-house team and our developer and we have a better product as a result.  We outsourced to a tech person with skills we did not have with a network they could sub-contract to (we would never have found them) and although we didn’t think of it in these terms, we also got another brain.

Think about this; if your were starting up a new business today how would pursuit of a zero inefficiency business dictate your hiring plans?  And, what is the right balance between staff and others outside the business?

Who would have thought that when we started on the journey into an online world that we would be presented these choices?  Where next I wonder.