Devious, conniving, underhand good-for-nothing, or …
… highly entrepreneurial, talented, effective top coder?
So, we hear today that “Bob” has been outsourcing his work to a Chinese firm for just 1/5 of his salary, keeping the other 80% for himself, and spending most of his own time diddling about on the web. Leave aside for a minute that he was working on a national infrastructure project, and that he clearly broke his employers’ trust, and their security policies, maybe we should be asking ourselves what, exactly, we employ people for?
Essentially, the only reason ever to employ someone is because there is an outcome that we need. That might be something like “happy customers”, “boxes of widgets ready to ship”, “records kept accurately and up to date” or (as in Bob’s case) “clean, well-written code delivered on time”. That begs the question, do we employ people to actually do the work, or do we employ them to get the work done? Bob certainly got the work done – he was considered the company’s best coder. But in most companies right now, it seems to be that we actually contract for a certain number of the employee’s hours, and then negotiate about what outcome they will produce from them.
What if we looked at it a different way? If our objective in employing someone is to get something done, might it not be more effective – and a whole lot more enjoyable all round – if we started to contract for the outcome, and negotiate on the quantity of hours required to produce it?