I was appalled to see this recent headline on the SSON site asking2010: The Year For Outsourced Thinking? (membership required) as well as the statement that organizations are increasing willing to outsource complex, higher value-added pieces of the “end-to-end” process.
Why? Because we’ve outsourced everything else. Raw material collection? Check. Processing? Check. Product Manufacturing? Check. Distribution? Check. Value-added services? Check. If we outsource thinking, and innovation, what’s left? Nothing of value! So while we should take advantage of reverse innovation at every opportunity, and partner with talent where we can find it, we should never, ever, outsource thinking. Because then all we have left is sales and marketing, which are totally useless if you don’t have a consumer base to market and sell to … which we won’t have if there are no jobs left — and there won’t be any jobs if we outsource the last few jobs we have! So unless you want to see an economy where the majority of us are unemployed while the remaining few are selling and marketing junk no one wants to each other, I’d make it a point to keep using our brain cells to their full potential. Otherwise, I predict that the 22nd century will see North America become the new third world.
The short story is that it doesn’t take long for a civilization to fall. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Teoithuacans, Mayans, Incans, Aztecs, Vikings, Byzantine, and early Chinese Dynasties [Sui, Yuan, Qing] all fell in less than a century, and some in half a century or less. If we stop thinking, I can’t see us lasting very long at all.