Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Street vendors and Talent houses

WARNING: This is probably one of those posts that just might not work, but anyway, this has been playing on my mind today that I had to write about it, so here goes!

The sell
If you're living in South Africa, or you spent some time here, you would have definitely come across our resourceful street vendors that hang around at major intersection traffic lights (robots), offering some really tempting fruits on sale. It is convenient, on-the-go, and price-competitive, reasonably safe, and most of the time, the stuff on sale looks really good. So to save yourself some time from stopping at a green grocer, you grab what's on offer, haggle a bit, pay and drive off. Seller and buyer are happy.

Sometimes though, and this is something that's becoming increasingly popular, is your street guy propping up his boxes, making it seem you're getting a good deal, the box has got the best samples on top, and tucked behind those good ones, are the not-so-good, slightly older fruit. Sometimes, the box has been pushed from the bottom to give the perception of volume, but sadly you're getting much less than you expected. In some bad cases, you get deceived by finding some really old rotting stuff (not cool)...
Hidden gems

A thought struck me today, that this is similar to the shows I've seen from software service providers, especially the ones that outsource, off-shore resources. They put on a good show, showcase their best talent at the initial meet-and-greet, CV/Resumes ripe for the taking - you sign the contract, agree on a medium-to-long-term support contract, thinking you're not only getting value-for-money, but also getting ripe fruit for the taking!

Alas, after a few months into the engagement, you realise that the good fruit was just a show, that the wider team is a box of dull tasting fruit, that you were sold more packaging than what you bargained for. Bodies are thrown at your project, giving the perception of a strong workforce, but you're unable to see any real value, delivery happens at snail-pace. Just what kind of fruit did you end up buying?? 

You're left with a sour taste in your mouth, you make a mental note not to be fooled by the alluring front of such street vendors. You will do your homework next time, ask the right questions, and continuously monitor the progress and commitment that your outsourced vendor had initially promised.

Too often, development managers are faced with just seeing the contract through, working with a mediocre team, fronted by a good tech lead if you're lucky...and kicking yourself for not taking extra time out to seek out to the rightfully established reputable greengrocer, who takes the time to source just the right quality fresh produce you really wanted, even if you have to pay a premium or wait in long queues!

Be ware of up-and-coming Talent houses. Take time to develop the relationships, and make sure you look past those lovely shining front-facing, mouth watering fruit....

As I've become my own independent consultancy, I am always mindful of overselling my expertise, mindful about putting on a show & being seen for a fraud, and take pains to delight my clients with work (and talent) that I can be proud to associate my brand with...

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