Top 3 Mistakes in “Outsourced” | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Doctors, lawyers, and cops have a pretty cool deal – not only can they enjoy their work at work, it seems that they can enjoy their work on multiple television shows at home as well. As a long-term consultant and analyst, the entertainment bigwigs have somehow missed out on creating award-winning shows which reflect my exciting line of work.

Until now.

Well, kinda until now.

This fall NBC launched a new workplace comedy, Outsourced, that follows the day-to-day lives of the employees in a Mumbai contact center. For those not yet eagerly watching every show, the contact center supports a catalog retailer that sells novelty goods and is managed by an American whom moves to India. Surprise, surprise, lots of jokes about cultural differences form the backbone of the plot.

After a couple of overly simplistic episodes at the start of the season the show seems to be finding a groove, and media critics are starting to support it. NBC recently picked up the option to produce the full season of episodes. (Previous episodes are available in steaming video on NBC’s site).

The show is starting to grow on me as well, and I feel a strange professional obligation to analyze how well it reflects India and the reality of global services.

Like all workplace-based comedies, work seems to be the last thing on anyone’s mind. (Might lick the economic recession if the entertainment industry set a better role model for what work looks like – what will they do next to corrupt the youth?)

After deep statistical review (top of mind recall), I offer my official view of the top 3 mistakes in “Outsourced.”

1. Time zone shifting. Although the writers understand that India is a long ways from North America, they seem to have forgotten about the whole round, spinning earth thing. Instead of working night-time hours to support the North America customers of the Mid-American Novelties, the contact center conveniently operates what appears to be a leisurely 9-to-5 daytime shift. Makes for nice lighting, but certainly not reality.

2. Fat chance those are Indian cows. Cows are holy animals in India, but that does not mean they eat well – they are skinny, bony creatures of the neighborhood (and street). Give the show props for accurately capturing the random cow in day-to-day life, but put those cows on a diet! Terrible casting of the bovine characters.

3. Lock ‘em up – please! Unlike any delivery center I have visited, this one has an open door policy. Open door to the street. Open door to the hallway. Open door to offices of other companies hosting their contact centers in the building. I can’t think of how to make scanning badges, signing in, and other normal security stuff fit smoothly into a plot, but have at least a LITTLE security! Maybe a sleeping security guard at the door? Please, something!

These are the biggies I noticed – am sure I missed some that others picked up.

Now if I could just figure out what sourcing model they are using…a captive? A BOT? Maybe a virtual captive? Nice to have an excuse to watch more television…

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