November 15; If It’s Not Core, Then It’s Going Off-Shore
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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15 November

For though I am absent from you in body,

Colossians 2:5

If It’s Not Core, Then It’s Going Off-Shore

Focus

Your Business Professor was struggling to manage my part of a $200 million dollar project at an All-Staff Meeting. There were whispers between my directors and some of their back benching assistants. Something was odd about their conversations. Their language was off kilter.

In hushed tones I heard, client specs…  I stopped.

“If your paycheck does not have my company’s name on it,” I ask, “Please indicate by raising your hand.”

Two thirds of my “team” were outside consultants.

I got mad. For no reason. I wanted control control control of everything, everywhere.

I majored in the minors and minored in the majors.

I was, of course, an amateur manager. But I would learn. I would become an (out)sourcer’s apprentice. Some parts of my business deserved more of my immediate attention than others.

***

The story is told of Jack Welch, former GE CEO as he speaks of the difference between the ‘critical’ and ‘core’ parts of a business,

In the late 1980’s, during a period of intense competitive ferment, [Peter] Drucker was summoned back to GE…

“Make sure that your back room is their front room,” recalls Welch. It was a statement that helped define Welch’s approach to a wave of outsourcing.

“In other words, don’t you do guard services at your plant. Get someone who specializes in guard services” to do them for you. Get rid of in-house printing, in-house conferences services, any business than isn’t the core of your focus.

Explains Welch, “[Drucker] made it very clear what a waste” it was to be in marginal activities where, inevitably, GE would put its “weakest people.” (Gabor 2000) p 322

How does the #AlertStudent and manager determine the difference between the core of a business from the merely critical component?

The core of any going concern is what the customer walks away with after crashing into your company. Critical functions support the core.

Always work in the core of a business. For example, if your passion is lawn care maintenance then work in, say, a landscape business. Do not work in grounds maintenance at an accounting firm.

If your passion is bookkeeping work at a bookkeeping firm. Do not do the back office bookkeeping at a lawn care company.

Core for one company is critical at another.

Critical at one company is core for another.

The focused CEO cares about core. Because that is of first importance, the value to the customer. Critical is an unfocused blur.

Entrepreneur Richard Koch writes,  

Unless we have numbers or 80/20 Thinking to guide us, most things always appear more important than the few things that are actually more important.

Even if we accept the point in our minds, it is difficult to make the next hop to focused action. Keep the “vital few” in the forefront of your brain. And keep reviewing whether you are spending more time and effort on the vital few rather than the trivial many.

I had learned this the hard way.

***

My project team was a majority of outsourced talent and these consultants were then doing their own outsourcing. Seamlessly (to me) the consulting firms were sub-sub-contracting downstream to the Indian sub-continent. Faster-better-cheaper and all that.

I stopped my madness. I was getting my core needs met. The customers were delighted. The consultants and all that non-core, critical stuff was getting done in other time zones.

I didn’t need to be everywhere.

For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. Colossians 2:5

###

The Capitalist Philosophers by Andrea Gabor, 2000, page 322

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Kock, 1999, pages. 127f

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