What has enabled Elon Musk to single-handedly disrupt the automobile industry, cleantech, mass transit, and space excursions? It’s obviously not just his Stanford degree or his privileges to hang out in the social circles of Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman — many people before and after him did that. The thing that separates Musk from all his genius predecessors and brilliant counterparts is that he is different by design.

Musk has emerged as a brand for disruption because he thinks in first principles. Musk has succeeded because he reimagined things in ways that broke the confines of ancient beliefs. He saw opportunities that were hidden in plain sight — his leverage is his thinking that is different by design.

If you look at the most successful companies in the world right now, they are disrupting their respective universes because of this simple change in design thinking. Apple outsourced its hardware manufacturing to China to save costs and boost profit. It did so despite the fact that Chinese manufacturers were known for building cheap quality products. Amazon outsourced its inventory management to change the supply chain status quo, despite the widespread belief that people were reluctant to buy online.

There are big opportunities for businesses of all shapes and sizes to realize their full potential. But every avalanche starts with a pebble — to achieve moonshot goals, businesses first have to change their fundamentals. They first have to become different by design.

Outsourcing can make your company different by design

Business process outsourcing (BPO) has its roots in manufacturing. Factories outsourced parts of their manufacturing processes to offshore partners in order to cut costs and maximize profit.

Over the years, outsourcing has spread its wings across all industries and verticals imaginable. Now, virtually every industry uses outsourcing solutions to cut down overheads and boost productivity. According to a 2017 research report, the global BPO services market is expected to reach a value of $163,764.0 million by the end of 2021.

Outsourcing has diversified even into highly-specialized professional areas — such as knowledge process outsourcing, legal process outsourcing, and research process outsourcing — which were traditionally considered sacrosanct for outsourcing. Besides, outsourcing itself is ripe for an overhaul with the emerging popularity of onshoring and nearshoring solutions over offshoring services.

Why are businesses from across the board flocking to outsourcing? Mostly, it’s because BPOs can help companies reframe their cost and labor problems. By delegating certain parts of their operations to external experts, organizations can enable their best internal talents to focus on their core competencies rather than bogging them down with routine functions.

Outsourcing also offers a great competitive advantage to businesses of all sizes in scaling their operations. For instance, a fledgling organization can ramp up its production through a BPO partner at a much lower cost rather than pushing its limits with the already-constrained in-house resources.

But here is the best part about how an outsourcing partner can help you become different by design. The outsourcing industry is built on human capital, and the best BPO partners take a human-centric approach to solve business problems.

The different by design change agents

When businesses outsource their operations, they are not doing a massive overhaul in the way they function. Most likely than not, outsourcing partners carry on the functions that these businesses might have already been doing — but with difficulties.

But businesses that want to adopt a different by design mindset will have to think differently. Essentially, there are three areas that these organizations should re-engineer in order to achieve unprecedented growth.

People

The difference in designing your business for success starts with a people-centric approach. Businesses succeed when they weed out the unnecessary trappings and realize that their core function is to add value to people’s lives. The people in this context are both employees as well as customers. Employees are a company’s internal clients. If a company helps its employees create wealth and empower them to succeed, they succeed by virtue of actualizing its team’s potential.

Once you unlock the secret to employee engagement, its benefits naturally flow to creating a great customer experience. Think of how Uber pulled this off in a relatively underwhelmed market of traditional cabs. By smashing the bureaucracy in the cab-hailing industry, Uber attracted virtually anyone interested to make money with their cars. It became the intermediary in bridging the supply and demand gap. All of this came together to create an amazing customer experience (CX) for all the stakeholders.

Businesses can take the first step to act different by design by putting people at the center and solving their pain points. When you set people’s experience in an order of priority, your business will grow as a side effect.

Technology

Businesses become different by design because they change their mindsets. They accelerate the change by adopting the right tools and technologies in their growth. In the above example, Uber created a business moat by introducing technological add-ons such as GPS-enabled hailing, maps for communicating waiting time, seamless in-cab experiences, etc.

Technology is the second layer in the concentric circle of different by design framework. The human-to-machine interactions enable people to be more productive and collaborate beyond physical limitations. It helps businesses multiply their operational efficiency and perform at scale. For customers, technology democratizes knowledge and ensures data security.

After building its strength on people, the BPO sector is primed for technological disruption. With new advancements in the sector of robotic process automation (RPA), it will soon become the major driving force in streamlining and executing enterprise processes more efficiently. When people are equipped with the right tools to succeed, it will give way for businesses to come up with breakthrough innovations and elevate the collective consciousness of human civilization.

Leadership

None of the above, i.e., people and technology, can change without the buy-in of people at the helm. Leadership is at the highest level of the different by design principle because leaders are the ones to envision the entire spectrum of change, coach their teams, and set them up for success. In today’s day and age, leaders should lead by example instead of firing orders at their teams. They should show up for their teams, rally them for success, and keep pushing the envelope to achieve a different by design organizational structure.

It’s important for leaders to embrace a servant leader mindset because you can no longer enforce behavioral change in today’s workforce. You can only help them change their attitude from within. Additionally, the leadership should think glocal (global+local), plan future-ready strategies, and prepare their teams for digital transformation in order to re-imagine their business.

Start thinking differently

Human-centric design is much more difficult to spot than bad designs. It’s because good design sits so well with its environment that it becomes part of that surrounding. In the same vein, when organizations act different by design, they actually appear more relatable to their customers. When they embrace the different by design culture, it becomes part of their functional DNA.

If you want your organization to think different by design, start with the basics. Identify the moving parts in your operations that you can outsource to capable partners. Apply the first principle thinking and reverse engineer your beliefs around the people, processes, and technology. If you select the right BPO partner and the right outsourcing solution for your business, you will soon be in a league of organizations like Tesla and SpaceX that achieve one moonshot goal after another.