Scott Hanselman

Hanselminutes Podcast 106 - Inside Outsourcing

March 31, 2008 Comment on this post [12] Posted in Podcast
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windia08 My one-hundred-and-sixth podcast is up. This was an unusual show as I was at Mix and saw two Regional Director buddies of mine, Vinod Unny (profile) and Venkatarangan TNC (profile) and we started chatting. Another person listening in thought the topic was interesting and said we ought to record it, so I busted out the recording gear and we did an on-the-spot recording on the effects of outsourcing from both the American and Indian perspective.

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Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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March 31, 2008 11:44
What many people do not understand about India is that their culture is completely different from the Western one. And I am not talking about the education infrastructure or the government policies, I am talking about the ingrained beliefs and customs of the people. Is it good that the money trickles down and people are used to it? In the end it's the same thing as with the Japanese samurai: is it honorable or stupid to kill yourself for shaming your boss?

In the spirit of OOP, India is a black box: we send money and we get code. We really don't want to care about what happens outside the need to manage the team progress. Should we? It is obvious that the Indian software development industry has benefited from the work we send over there and in the process this has changed the pay level, the way people work. This lateral trickling is something that we Westerners feel very good about, too. The cultural trickling is ok, as well, as we (how could we not) feel that our own value system brings good things to the table.

However, when you take the high perspective to it, it is we who give the software job to the people who do it cheaply. In the process we undervalue the talent or perspectives of local people. The arrogant bastards are asking for too much anyway, right? We give the task to honest, hard working folks instead. I am sure some high manager in India thinks the same about the people living on a few dollars a day, too.
March 31, 2008 19:48
Only about 4 mins in and I'm thinking to myself "Gee I should move to India and make more money!".

March 31, 2008 22:39
I posted my comments on Venkat's blog as well.

Outsourcing is more of business game than anything else. Cheap goods produced in china, cheap labour comes from India. Also, the kind of work that is outsourced is not of too high quality (except that it should work)

I heard one of your podcasts with Dan Appleman. He correctly says that architecture is something that US has an edge in. I agree to that. At the same time, most of the work that gets outsourced requires implementation than architectural skills.
April 02, 2008 21:50
Your opening comments on this podcast go beyond ingnorance.

Do you really believe that America holds the status quo for creativity compared to the rest of the world?

The rest of the world?

Do you really believ this?

I guess as a mere workhorse in Ireland, I was doing calculus at 15.

Maybe it explains your choice of guest. You choose somebody from the entity framework as opposed to somebody from a product that people actually use like castle or NHibernate.

I fear you need to get out more.
April 03, 2008 11:17
Paul, I'm sorry if you found the discussion or something I said offensive. It was about 3 minutes in, and I was juxtaposing the American Educational System vs. India's. Our U.S. system, unfortunately, doesn't seem to value analytics in early education, but rather focuses, too much I think, on creativity. The guests weren't offended and in fact, agreed. That each of our respective systems wasn't sufficiently "balanced."

I didn't say that Americans had some dominion over creative thought, but rather that our educational systems were different.
April 03, 2008 12:10
To clarify, Scott didn't really say anything offensive in his creativity comment. In fact, I agreed with him in an overall generic way that the education system in India concentrates much, much, much more on the practical aspects rather than creative aspects. There are good things of this and then there are bad.

In fact, it is common for kids to choose careers in things like engineering, software, medicine etc. Which is why we are great implementers.

However, if a kid goes and says that he wants to be a painter or singer or sculptor he would most probably be discouraged in his social circle of parents and relatives. This is NOT to say that India does not have great artists and very, very good creative talent. Not just today but from centuries ago as well.

Looking at some of the stuff that was shown off in Mix, did make me think about why we don't have / don't display our talents in the creative field as well.
April 03, 2008 12:15
Sorry for the double post, but after re-reading Scott's reply above, just wanted to add this:

I don't really think that the American basic education system is better than the Indian one. Yes, at a primary level, it is much better - thanks to the resources that American has at its disposal. For instance, on a visit to the Seattle Pacific Science Center, I was amazed at the kind of stuff available for children to learn basics of science and really wished this was available in India as well. However, on talking to people I found out that this is only true for the primary education. Once you reach a slighlty higher level, the creativity thing takes over and the system loses out on the analytical part.

I guess a balance needs to be reached in both India and America for the education system. :)
April 03, 2008 18:16
I thought the interview was great! Handling this kind of topic is extremely difficult because you are forcing developers to really look at the business and politics of globalization and outsourcing. I really appreciate the fact that you gave these two guys the opportunity to discuss this topic in a dignified and respectful way.

The effects of outsourcing has recently effected our company and so this topic has become an emotional powder keg. Discussions can turn offensive and ultimately vilify other cultures without sincere socratic analysis.

I really appreciate the time you took to go over this!
April 03, 2008 23:51
Vinod - I agree. This isn't about "better" as it's about "different." I actually talked to a teacher at a potential school for my son, and they said we shouldn't bother teaching him to read until 6 or 7 years old. This was shocking to me. They felt the first 5-7 years should be about creativity. Again, different. I'm not clear if it's a good idea, although it feels weird to me. He's 2 and we're teaching him to read now.
April 04, 2008 5:49
Here's the really weird part about how our cultures differ. My son's 2 years old too. However, when he was about 3 months old we went for a stroll in the mall. A stall there was selling books. An agent who saw us with this kid walked up and very politely started explaining about the set of books he was selling. These were special educational books for kids up to 3 years that we could read to him everyday so that he starts learning faster. In fact, after 18 months, there were actually exercises that he would need to complete.

My wife was shocked and replied that we didn't want to put so much pressure on the kid so early. The agent then replied that we were actually late since the books start for 0 months old and parents are lapping them up to get a lead start for their kids. We decided not to get into that kind of rat race and only now are starting to teach him the alphabets and reading just like you.
April 09, 2008 22:59
How come education is such a debated subject everywhere? Every time someone mentions the education system, it seems everyone has a thought on it. Is it because we understand how important is or is it because it has marked and shaped us from an early age, way before we could actually reason for ourselves?

And my own two cents is that analitics and creativity come hand in hand. You cannot teach any one without the other. Worse is when you don't teach either, forcing children to remember mechanically like living harddrives with voice recognition software; when they give you all this data, then they don't teach you what the importance and use of it is and they don't encourage your own journey of discovery.

In the end motivation is the key for both education and work (outsourced or not).
April 20, 2008 4:23
Great topic... India is still doing the catch up in terms of Architecture and Best Practices like TDD and Scrum..

Also, In the .NET space, there is soo much new things flooding the market, that Indians developers are still working on the legacy .NET 1.1 era...

Way to Scott.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.