Ed Averill's Point Of View
There seem to me to be some reasons NOT to outsource. If
one applies, a company should feel free to do it.
1. Because I am outsourcing, I am damaging the abilty
of my society/country/community to support itself, and therefore me.
The ability of the world to grow into a global economy has depended on
having people who wanted to buy and sell and transport -- and on people
who prevented the pirates of the world from making it too expensive to
try. During a large portion of the last 150 years, the United
States has provided one of the important global police forces that has
allowed the stable growth of this global economy. Other countries
and organizations have also played important roles. None of these
countries or organizations would exist except for their ability to
charge taxes and tarrifs of their successful citizens and constituents.
One of the many types of pirates that can weigh heavily on the cost of
turning invention in to successful business is the pirate of
intellectual property. It is through laws, courts, and treaties,
and the police actions that enforce, that govenments make it worthwhile
to engage in invention or other such creative acts.
Another way that a government provides an environment for me to be
successful is by managing access to shared natural resources, like air,
water, land, minerals, and people. Much of the government's
role is to prevent all of us from being destructive of the shared
resources -- me included.
If I have chosen to license a corporation under a particular
government, I think I have entered into a contract with that government
to do my business in such a way that my needs for protection of my
business activity -- both direct and indirect -- are not an unpaid-for
charity of the government on which I lean for support. Maybe some
of these obligations need to be more formal nowdays than they used to
be -- that is, spelled out in the articles of incorporation.
One of the ways I support my community is by hiring work done by local
people who also have an investment in making the community thrive, and
are willing to pay taxes and otherwise contribute to it's success.
2. Because I am ousourcing, the people who will best know how
to satisfy my customers will have no allegience to my company, or the
country that makes the company possible.
Much of the technological growth of the last 40 years has come as the
result of learning how to create and use computers. There are
many pieces in the development environment that has made that
progression possible. One of the often-quoted rules of the growth
has been Andy Grove's prediction that memory size/speed/price would
grow exponentially at a fairly high growth rate. Repeatedly,
industry has thought it would run into physical limits that would block
that growth. Repeatedly, industry has found the answers. We
are within a decade of some of the next barriers that are expected to
need breakthroughs to continue the progress that has fueled so many
Our ability to get to space is based on our ability to measure things
using mathematical estimation techniques that can only be performed by
machine. This same kind of knowledge of accuracy has become a
common part of our ability to manufacture materials of every increasing
strength and precision. It is necessary for the computers to have
direct control of many machines nowdays. They even do a better
job of putting on the breaks in our cars or applying the gas to the
intake than any simple mechanical mechanism.
So, who will make the next few rounds of breakthroughs? For
Often, it is the people who have their hands on the biggest
manufacturing processes that learn what the next barrier really
is, and how to break it.
The more advanced the manufacturing processes are that we ship
offshore, the greater the likelihood that we will train a new group of
engineers and technicians to make breakthroughs we would never think of.
But, we are now going even beyond training people in the hands-on of
advanced manufacturing. We are asking third-world countries to do
our thinking for cheap. We are asking them to build the software
that we need to design and build things yet to be manufactured.
We are also letting teams of people in third-world countries take
responsibility for answering the phone when our customer has a problem
with his product and is trying to tell us about things that need to be
better in order for him to be happy continuing to buy products from a
So, who will invent tomorrows' better solutions? Why will it be
my company? Why don't I have to answer to my board of directors
and stockholders about that?