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Outsource magazine: thought-leadership and outsourcing strategy | August 19, 2017

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Run For Their Lives!

Run For Their Lives!
Inside Source
  • On September 26, 2013

A heartwarming tale reaches me from a former colleague in the north of England who earlier this year was working to rectify a sourcing arrangement that was going, shall we say, somewhat less successfully than all parties had hoped at its inception. Disagreements were myriad, operational difficulties increasing and discontent on both the customer and supplier sides reaching intolerable proportions. Over a series of protracted and at times incendiary meetings, a new framework for the relationship had been tortuously wrangled into being but one key sticking point remained in the form of a particular penalty clause which the supplier viewed as being unnecessarily draconian.

To add fuel to the fire, the customer let it be known towards the end of one especially arduous week of negotiations that an agreement had to be reached by the following Monday as the organisation needed to press on with a restructuring which had an impact upon the future scope of the activities being outsourced. Things appeared to be going happily – comparatively speaking – but the aforementioned sticking point remained adhesive in the extreme, and first Friday, then Saturday (no doubt to the great joy of those involved in the discussions) came and went with no sign of the obstacle being removed.

On the Saturday, the lead on the customer side became increasingly frantic – desperate, even, to get this agreement in place by the end of the day; my acquaintance describes how this normally placid and well-balanced fellow lost his temper on a number of occasions, and this was seen by those present as being a sign of the immense pressure he was under to finish the process ahead of the deadline given by his bosses within the customer organisation. However, there was another cause…

On the Sunday the parties met once again for what they hoped would be the final time – all those present by now heartily sick and tired of each other, the renegotiation process and the whole darn deal. Met, that is, without the lead mentioned above, whose presence was deemed critical yet who didn’t arrive for a couple of hours after the start of discussions. And when he did so… All those present were somewhat astonished to see the fellow arrive, breathless and obviously exhausted – and dressed as a very well-known cartoon duck, sans the headpiece…

The gentleman in question had committed to participating in a local charity fun run, raising funds for cancer research having lost his mother quite recently, and had come straight from the finish line to the meeting under orders from above. His arrival, apparently, was greeted first with hilarity and then a kind of sober respect, as those present contemplated matters of greater and more mortal consequence than an outsourcing agreement. Shortly after lunchtime (at which point he was able – perhaps mercifully – to depart for a hasty shower) the agreement was finally concluded, and my former colleague maintains that the lead’s arrival and obvious determination to do the right thing in life prompted both sides to come to an agreement.

While I will keep his anonymity here, I salute him, and urge readers to do the same by contributing to the cause for which he had spent so much effort: you can find out more about donating to Marie Curie Cancer Care at – and as always you can send me your industry anecdotes and insider gossip to…

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