Meatballs and permeability

A few decades ago, Tom Peters argued that outsourcing everything in your company (and letting the various departments compete with outside vendors) made a lot of sense. If you need to run your copy department or factory efficiently enough to compete, you will, the thinking goes.

Logistics turned out to be a big problem with this idea. The fact is, atoms have to travel, so there’s a built-in advantage to the in-house solution.

Bits, on the other hand, don’t care so much about where you are. I needed some typing done on Saturday, so a click to Craigslist and then an email and… it was done. In half the time and for less than half the cost of having someone on staff to do it. At most organizations, especially those with more than fifty employees, there are people standing by to either make things get done quickly (like filing or typing) or to slow them down (like committees, lawyers and approvals, etc.). In each case, those skills aren’t nearly as valuable as they used to be.

When your organization starts freely sharing internal data (like rolodexes and schedules and cost info) and allows easy use of motivated outsiders, things get faster and cheaper and smarter. That’s one of the side effects of organizing around the new marketing as opposed to organizing around the factory.

David’s review of the new book is here. Also, a interview with Bryan that goes live today right here.