“Shit, I fired all my externals, what now?”

“Shit, I fired all my externals, what now?”

Jannes Baert

Jannes Baert


“Ok everyone, let’s put a short term focus on our core daily operations, secure business revenue, monitor our liquidity closely by decreasing direct costs, and create multiple scenarios in order to stay agile.” 

I’d guess this must have been 1 of the most popular sentences at board levels of companies a few months ago. Nobody will deny that daily operations and business revenues of companies are shaken (and stirred) firmly the last couple of months. But what does a crisis do in terms of the organizational architecture?


Reactions to a crisis

Is history back? Well, yes and no. No, as COVID-19 in particular is synonym for sudden and integral change. Of unexpected and radical. Of chaotic but structural. So in some way this crisis hits us even harder, as every single human being, family and organization felt impact of this silent enemy.

But yes, history is back, as the reactions to this crisis don’t change. One of the most common cascade effects is that companies start to focus again exclusively on internal resources. “Let’s play it safe on the short term”, meaning returning to the absolute core activity, putting the more innovative projects (higher risk, higher cost) on hold, and limiting non-essential expenses. However, are externals always non-essential expenses?

Focus on innovation

We know that in our fast-changing environment, our ability to learn, rather than our expertise makes the difference. In order to stay competitive, companies apply generally a proven combination of internal forces and external freshness to keep that learning attitude.

So focusing on innovation is always important. In crisis time however it becomes an essential survival strategy: all markets get tensed, and you have to adapt quickly to change in order to stay in the game. The question rises then if an “invent-it-ourselves”-principle is the right way to go. Why is it useful to rely on external insights during a crisis as well?

Calling on externals, some advantages

1.     Gain key knowledge: the most obvious one is that an organization easily acquires certain expertise and knowledge that is lacking. Nothing strange about that: you focus on the core activity of your organization, meaning you can’t know everything anytime.

2.     Avoid tunnel view: maybe the most important advantage is that it takes you away from a tunnel view. After all sometimes it's not experience that makes you the best. Or to put it differently: If you don’t know the unwritten rules of an organization, it’s easier to take a meta position, resulting in insights that are refreshing by nature.

3.     Maximize short term ROI: last but not least it’s of course also easier to maximize the ROI of these profiles as you appeal their services when you need them.

So if we take these advantages into account it turns out to be logical to continue attracting external competencies and knowledge to knock ourselves through the crisis and stay future proof.

Keeping built-in external knowledge

Now, perfection doesn’t exist, does it? The most important downside of externals is probably that the developed knowledge leaves again to a greater of lesser extent once the assignment is completed.

That disadvantage pops up the main question: how can I bring in fresh external insights, in order to help us through a crisis, without losing the value of it on the long run? There are many ways, and one of them is exactly the main reason why I started working for ORMIT 9 months ago: being a bridge builder between 2 valuable parties.

On the one hand ORMIT carefully selects young talented rough diamonds, based on their hands-on, innovative and creative mindset. As a travelling companion ORMIT guides these talents during a 2-year traineeship. While focusing on their personal and leadership development, ORMIT links these talents to top notch companies that seek short term results (via missions) and long term success (via fixed positions after the traineeship). That way a fresh breeze inspires a company without losing the value of it on the long run.

In the end it will be your people, both with their mindset and competencies, that determine the success of your organization. Especially in COVID-19 times. 

Stopping external collaborations in order to cut costs. A smart move or not?