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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Loin des yeux, loin du coeur"

This is a French saying literally meaning "out of sight, out of heart".

This huge outsourcing trend has been regularly hitting the headlines for a decade now. One of the main challenges outsourcing poses is nothing else but remote control, remote collaborative work. The Internet is an extraordinary communications tool. However, I can´t come up with a single communication tool that enables to capture one´s emotions. The Internet abides by this rule. A number of software companies have launched collaborative tools that more or less satisfy the appetites of some users. But stomaches grow faster than new versions developments. And nothing will ever, whatsoever, replace eye-to-eye, face-to-face, hand-in-hand human contact.

I´m currently working on an Internet project, and all three of the engineering team (a graphic designer, two programmers) work from home. Fine. But for one reason or another, the development pace is rather slow. This might be because our project management methods are not yet well defined between the different players, however I found natural to suggest the COO of the company (I work for the VC fund investing in this Internet start-up) whether I could help find additional programming resources.
- "Why not?", he said - "What you got?"
- "Well, I know several free-lance programmers and graphic designers. They´re all based either in Israel, in the USA and in India. And when it comes to companies, I know two guys in Paris who´ve successfully launched their own website designing business". Namely David Poryngier ( and Vincent Jacques ( The latter manages a team of programmers based in Romania.
- "No, I ain´t work with such people. I want them to stand right here, in Barcelona."
- "You know, I guess Romanian engineers are a lot cheaper than here"
- "It doesn´t matter really. I want to be able to kick their ass if they don´t do their job. Can you picture me flying to Bucarest every week-end to monitor their work?"
- "Loin des yeux, loin du coeur", I whispered.

Though I still disagree with the COO, I found this perspective interesting since many decision-makers may think the same way. We´ve entered an era in which distance matters less, it seems, thanks to new communications tools - an era of "Globalization" as they say. But isn´t geographical distance the ultimate bottleneck of globalization until someone invents the "ubiquity machine"?


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