Outstanding Outsourcing

31 May


Sometimes it’s efficient to outsource work to others.  Sometimes it’s funny too.  And apparently anything can be outsourced these days if you have a little imagination and next to no dignity.

The first example comes from China, where a concerned father named Mr Feng was worried that his son, Feng Xiao, was wasting his life by spending too much time playing computer games.  Instead of confronting his son, however, Mr Feng opted to outsource his parenting.

He hired assassins to kill his son.

Now that might seem a little over the top, except that the assassins were charged with the task of killing Feng Xiao’s online avatar.  Mr Feng’s theory was that if his son’s online persona was killed, he would be unable to play computer games, get bored, and then try to find a job.  Actually, that is a little over the top.

Cold blooded killers.  Sort of.

Cold blooded killers. Sort of.

This sounds logical in theory – ridiculous, but logical – except that there was one small problem.

Feng Xiao was too good.

Despite being ganged up on and outnumbered by the virtual hit-men, Xiao could not be killed, his countless hours at the computer finally proving useful.  After repeated attempts to kill him failed, Xiao eventually confronted the hired guns who – in true geek fashion – cowardly broke down and revealed everything.  Xiao then told his father that he was not addicted to gaming and was just waiting for the right job to come up.  At this point I’m thinking he should give being an online assassin a go.

Over in Japan, the Tama Zoological Park outsourced the job of being an animal.  Luckily this didn’t mean that patrons who visited the zoo paid good money to see humans posing as animals (although I’ve seen a few people who could probably get away with doing that in the monkey enclosure).  Rather, the zoo wanted to conduct emergency tests to practice its response to the escape of dangerous animals.  So it got an employee to dress as a zebra and ‘break free’.

After a pretend earthquake broke down the wall to the enclosure, the ‘zebra’ ran loose.  Luckily, it was captured with the aid of a net and tranquilizers.  I’m hoping to use similar techniques in my workplace.

When asked what advice he would give to the next person to play an escaped animal, the zebra, Mr Tanaka, said, “I’d have to warn them that the inside does indeed become a bit stinky with sweat and so they should think about how to deal with that.”  Personally I’d be more concerned with how to deal with being attacked by tranquilizers.

I wonder if this was in the job description?

I wonder if this was in the job description?

Finally, a man in the USA almost pulled off the best bit of outsourcing ever.  A US critical infrastructure company discovered that the traffic logs for its best programmer showed a regular series of logins to the company’s main server from Shenyang, China.  Worried about a security breach, the company investigated a little further to find out what was going on.

As it turns out there wasn’t a security breach.  Phew.  Nothing to worry about.  Except for the fact that what had actually happened was that the programmer had outsourced his job to a Chinese software consultancy which was logging in to the company’s server to do the programmer’s work remotely, allowing the programmer to swan about on the internet all day.

What a genius move.  The programmer was paying his Chinese subcontractor a fifth of his six-figure salary, enabling himself to basically chill out at work all day – kind of like he was management.  The best part was that he regularly won awards for being the firm’s top coder even though he never did a lick of work himself.

Foolishly, he saved hundreds of invoices on his desktop, and a further analysis of his workstation showed that his typical work day consisted of the following:

9:00 a.m. – Arrive and surf Reddit for a couple of hours. Watch cat videos

11:30 a.m. – Take lunch

1:00 p.m. – Ebay time

2:00-ish p.m – Facebook updates, LinkedIn

4:30 p.m. – End-of-day update e-mail to management

5:00 p.m. – Go home

In fact, the scheme was working so well, that it was discovered that he had taken jobs with other firms and outsourced them too.

Not surprisingly, the programmer no longer works with the firm.  I hear that he is looking into the pretend zebra industry.

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