Over at CIO Update, John Hughes has recently written some advice for CIOs (Somewhere Between Abdication and Control Freak) that, coincidentally, is quite relevant for those charged with managing suppliers delivering services on an outsourced basis.
The premise is that an optimal solution for leadership exists somewhere between completely abdicating responsibility and pestering everyone until they give up and do it your way.
While I’ve heard of leadership being described in many ways, likening it to keeping plates spinning on thin wooden poles is spot on, as is the portrayal of abdication being the equivalent of starting up the plates and then walking away and micro-management having the effect of severely limiting the number of plate spinners that can be
watched managed at a given time.
So what’s this got to do with managing suppliers? Balance, just like darn near everything else in life. Push suppliers too far by telling them how to do their job and you’ll not only end up writing the procedures, but owning the results – something you had before outsourcing it in the first place, but without a stack of contract documents and a margin on top. Ignore them and it would seem that wandering around a desert for 40 years might have a better chance of keeping IT aligned with the needs of the business.
Just as good leaders avoid using polarizing techniques on the people they manage, so too should those managing corporate entities like suppliers.
Remember, everything in moderation, including moderation.