At 7 am, once a week, across New Zealand, a group of between twenty-thirty people assemble.
These groups of people don't belong to a sect. They have no secret handshake. No password or code.
They're simply networking. So what makes this group so interestingly different?
The difference is insourcing.
So what's insourcing?
Well, it's kinda like the other side of the outsourcing coin, you could say.
Outsourcing says: Go ye, into the world, and find some one to do what you do.
Insourcing says: Go ye, amongst thine customers, because they want to pitch in and help you do what you do.
Huh? Customers pitching in to help you?
Well, that's exactly what happens at the 7am hour at Business Networking International Groups (BNI Groups) across New Zealand.
One of the thirty people runs the hour long networking event: He/she is called the President. In case the president doesn't show up, there's the vice-president (who has his/her own duties regardless).
And there's a treasurer.
A visitor host to help newcomers settle in.
A networking educator who um…educates.
And no one gets a salary.
No one sends in an invoice to head office for work done.
And I know it's sounding crazier by the minute, but it's true.
BNI groups put self-interest below group-interest
That is why you'll find that every member of the group acts as a sales person. Every member tends to want to bring in more members to enrich the group. Every member helps out in the running of the group where possible.
And while the president, vice-president and treasurer get a rebate on their membership, no one else gets paid. Yet they happily participate and grow the business, without asking for a salary or reward.
This is the concept of insourcing.
And this concept isn't new.
Even as a child you could go back to a point in time, where your parents threw a party. And no, they didn't have fancy-schmancy caterers. And they didn't cook most of the scrumptious food either.
Instead all the guests pitched in. Each of the guest loaded the groaning table with yet one more dessert; yet another salad; yet another lip-smacking dish.
Your parents were no dopes.
They realised they could do it themselves; They could outsource; Or they could insource.
And they did what Wikipedia does
Wikipedia insources. Wikipedia.org is an online encyclopaedia started by Jimmy Wales in the year 2001.
And as of today, Wikipedia has more than 1,920,000 articles on subjects as varied as you can probably think of. Of course, this mountain of articles is just in English.
There are 534 000+ articles in French.
260 000+ artículos en Espanol.
242 000+ artiklar in ze Swedish.
And yup, as you guessed there are hundreds of thousands of articles in Italian, and Polish, and Marathi, from countries and languages you probably even haven't heard of yet.
Heck, try outsourcing a job like that!
Every day tens of thousands of Wikipedia ‘editors' (what else could you call them?) scour the pages, adding information, updating information, and fixing information that's been defaced. And these Wikipedia ‘editors' can and do fix pages online, simply because they're allowed to.
For a large part, the system gives an average Joe the ability to post and update information. And it's all done by ‘customers’ who are interested in keeping Wikipedia going.
So why would your customers be interested in keeping you going?
I mean, why would they ‘work for you?'
Contrary to what you believe, customers are more than willing to pitch in. We’ve all grown up to believe that somehow we’re driven by our selfish desires. And God knows we are.
But there’s a group desire that is bigger than our petty wants. And that group desire understands and recognises the need to pitch in—without a fee.
You may not believe this to be true.
But ask a customer to proof-read your report, for instance. And they’ll do it. Ask for volunteers if you need some technical help on computers.
And you’ll get it. Ask for ideas on how to improve your business, and a wall of suggestions will warm you like sunshine on a freezing day.
Your parents were no dopes, but you sure are!
You are so very enamoured by the great world of outsourcing, that you’ve forgotten what it is like to insource. You’ve excluded your customers from pitching in. You’ve shut the door on not just volunteerism, but technical expertise.
Many of your customers are technically superior to both you, and your ‘outsourced person.’ And these customers are more than happy to pitch in. But you won’t let them.
Well, in our business we let them.
Customers act as guides to new customers.
Customers upload information to our servers and notify other customers about updates.
Customers trawl through our website and spot errors, and help us fix them.
Customers make hundreds of suggestions to fix our business—knowing we will do our best. Customers help at our workshops, doing various tasks (and we do ask for volunteers).
This, my friend, is insourcing.
It’s what your parents did at the summer party. It’s what Wikipedia, iTunes, Amazon.com and hundreds, if not thousands of businesses do all the time. It’s what religions have been successfully doing for thousands of years. It’s what those twenty-thirty people do at every 7 am meeting at BNI, week after week after week.
And you're not.
Well, about time to change your ways, don't you think?
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I have my customers coming to me and offering to help at the studio. I had not even mentioned that I needed / wanted any help.
There is one person that has offered to enter our attendance statistics into the computer so they can be analyzed.
Another one has offered to build two or three sets of storage shelves over the summer. He will do the design and build. All I have to do is supply the materials that he needs.
The reason they have offered. They want the yoga studio to thrive and survive. They feel this is a small way that they can help to insure that that happens.
Their self interest will benefit themselves and all of the people that come to the studio.
All you need is a 100 raving fans and your success is assured. They are willing to give you their money and in a lot of cases their talent to make sure that you succeed.
Thanks for the article.
Brian O'Connell says
I’ve wanted to do this for years now. I keep chickening out because I think my clients are too busy to help.
After reading your article I’m inspired to try again.