It’s Thanksgiving – How to Learn from the Turkey

This morning I pulled out my old, dented, navy-blue-with-little-white-flecks roasting pan in preparation for Thanksgiving. That old pan has always done a predictable job on Thanksgiving! I thought to myself “One day I will have to get a new pan.” My brother (a chef) swears I should actually try deep frying my turkey, but somehow I just can’t seem to find the guts to try such a new (and most likely better) way when my good old pan steadily delivers.

As I think about this it occurs to that some businesses get caught in the same kind rut and try to justify why they can’t or don’t want to try Vested Outsourcing. I often hear outsourcing professionals say “We’re comfortable with the way we’re doing it. There are problems but, all in all we’ve worked out the bugs and are getting predictable performance.”

The problem with that kind of stubborn loyalty to an idea or process is that it is limiting—and  in some cases, lethal. This kind of thinking is what Nassim Nicholas Taleb warns about in his book The Black Swan. “Black Swans,” according to Taleb include most major discoveries and events – random, undirected and unpredicted – that end up changing things forever.

Now how does Taleb’s Black Swan concept relate to my turkey pan and outsourcing? On page 40 Taleb begins a passage entitled “How to Learn from the Turkey.” He writes:

“Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will firm up the bird’s belief that it is the general rule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race ‘looking out for it’s best interest’ as politicians would say. On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief.”

This concept of getting comfortable with the status quo and not expecting change is known as the Power of Induction. Taleb states it is the “mother of all problems in life” and he points out that we should all heed the lesson of the turkey: What we know as stable performance today may in fact be death to the turkey tomorrow!

As much as we’d like to, we don’t know what the next “Black Swan” will be. In order to be prepared to survive whatever gets thrown at us, we need to cultivate the capacity to not only cope but to thrive and embrace new ways of thinking that might actually be better! Random does not have to be bad or disastrous—the unexpected always happens in life and business; it’s wise to be ready and flexible.

Vested Outsourcing and the Five Rules challenge the conventional transaction-based outsourcing business model in favor of a collaborative, flexible, mutually beneficial approach in which all share the rewards of working together.

Sometimes it is worth trying out new things. I promise to try a deep fried turkey this year if you promise to try a pilot of Vested Outsourcing!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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