Home Page > Publications > The Outsourcing Industry Finally Gets It's Own Show!!

It seems that every profession that employs more than 50 people has seen at least one prime time show dedicated to it. Policemen, chefs and doctors are the clear winners with tens, if not hundreds of programs spanning from the super serious to the completely absurd. Seemingly, every year brings us another variant of Dr. Kildare, Dragnet and The French Chef. So finally, we now have a show that glorifies (or perhaps 'in-glorifies') the outsourcing industry.

GE's NBC has once again dipped into the waters of self-deprecating comedy with its latest prime time show, Outsourced. Following in the footsteps of hits like The Office and 30 Rock, Outsourced follows the trials and tribulations of an outsourced call center and its American managers. As a long-time GE employee, it's oddly gratifying that they've once again looked inward to find the material for its latest show.

The season premier is only a few days away, and there's a trailer available on the NBC Website. While I can't say the trailer gives me the highest hopes for a decade-long comedic dynasty, it doesn't seem to stray all that far from reality, and there are a few good lessons to be learned.

The plot is pretty straightforward... Todd Donovan, a young go-getter at "Mid-Atlantic Novelties" arrives at his office to find that the call center he was hired to manage has been moved to India... and he's meant to go along with them. Upon arriving, our protagonist is bewildered by his new surroundings (which, to be honest, have a somewhat East Coast feel to them). He then meets his new call center team, each of whom delivers a different cultural stereotype to his (and presumably the audience's) amusement. As expected, operations are disaster, and Todd soon falls into a valley of despair. Finally, with the sage advice of another American who's been in the game for some time, he's able to bond with, and then lead his team to a classic underdog victory.

While there's probably a bit too much play on the cultural divide, there are elements of Office Space, Gung Ho, National Lampoon's European Vacation and perhaps even Rocky IV. All great movies in my book.

... OK... so I'll leave the movie reviews to the pros, and leave you with 3 lessons the trailer can teach us:

1. The trailer begins with Todd's realization that "Mid Atlantic Novelties" outsourced their entire call center operations without any warning or preparation whatsoever. While this is obviously extreme, businesses outsource using the "throw over the fence" mentality all the time, in the hope that their outsourcer will simply succeed without their involvement. Unfortunately, that only works out in Hollywood.

2. The other American manager informs our protagonist that he was given the "B-Team". In any large company - and outsourcers are no exception - there will be a huge variation in capability across the resource pool. Even small customers can have a huge impact on the quality of people that land on their teams... and the guarantee of an "A Team" (or at least a critical mass of "A Players") are in place before the contract is signed.

3. Towards the end of the clip, Todd and his team are shown working together, helping each other succeed and bridging the cultural gap. It doesn't matter who or where a person is - if you don't have a productive working relationship, failure is inevitable. It's worth investing time to build team culture and help team members improve, even if they're not direct employees.

While Outsourced will undoubtedly have its highs and lows, it's still a show about outsourcing... a show our ever-growing profession has been waiting 10 years for.  

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