Beware of the Outsourcing Scorpion

You may have heard the fable of the scorpion and the frog, which has some very definite lessons about trust, collaboration, self-interest and the basic nature of humans. This fable provides a wise lesson for those in the outsourcing business as well.

In the story, a scorpion needs to cross a river but wonders how he can do so without drowning. He meets a frog on the riverbank and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The suspicious frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion replies, “Because if I do, I will die too.” That sounds reasonable enough and the frog is eventually satisfied; they set out, but in the swirling and muddy midstream, the frog feels the scorpion’s sting. As the frog feels the onset of paralysis and begins to sink, he gasps, “You fool! Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?”

The scorpion merely shrugged, and did a little jig on the drowning frog’s back. “I could not help myself. It is my nature.”

Yes, some relationships—even those that begin with the best of intentions—are bound to fail. For example, I have seen this many times when a service provider (in this case the frog) is too trusting (or in denial) about the real nature and track record of a company (the scorpion) it wants to do business with. Some companies that enter an outsource arrangement may do so with the best of collaborative intentions to achieve a goal, but all too easily revert to past ways of doing business because…well, because they really can’t help themselves once the water muddies and the current gets rough.

This fable and another one I recently wrote about, the Ant and the Lion, strike me as highly instructive in telling us how not to manage an outsourcing deal and how not to enter one without adequate preparation.

In a Vested Outsourcing relationship the parties do their homework and understand the business at hand. Our recently released The Vested Outsourcing Manual provides the direction in how to carefully a craft a sound outsourcing agreement that establishes a sound deal between the parties and addresses how to untangle a relationship fairly (versus being surprised by a sting).

The goal of Vested Outsourcing is to establish a clear path of intentions and align the outsource agreement away from self-interest, and past ways of dealing with risk and doing business.

In short, a well-crafted Vested agreement changes the nature of how companies work by helping them to swim–and succeed–together. 

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