Lessons Indian outsourcing industry can learn from the Tiger Woods affair(s)!


Tiger Woods has seen both – the heights of popularity and the depths of scandal. His alleged affairs have tarnished his spotless image. And the whole Tiger Woods affair has many valuable lessons for the Indian outsourcing industry. Here are a few lessons that the Indian outsourcing industry can learn from the Tiger Woods story.

It takes years to build a reputation…but a few seconds to shatter it!

This one is surely the most obvious lesson that any individual, let alone the Indian outsourcing industry, can get from the whole Tiger Woods affair. Tigers Woods’ squeaky clean image and his reputation as a world-class golfer, a dedicated family man and an honest human being were built over many years. But all it took were a few tugs from some of his alleged mistresses to get this house of cards (his reputation!) tumbling down. In just about a month, the Tiger went on to become a whimpering puppy.

The outstanding success of the Indian outsourcing industry is because of its ability to excel in delivering value to clients at very good prices. It’s a reputation of trust built over the years by exceeding client’s expectations. The industry must constantly endeavor to safeguard this reputation through continuous innovation. A few mistakes here and there could reflect badly on the industry, as a whole.

Brand Image isn’t everything. What’s inside counts!

The Indian outsourcing industry has an image of being very innovative, pro-active and driven by highly talented individuals. It also has the reputation of being transparent, trust-worthy and capable of delivering value beyond client expectations. So did Tiger Woods brand before the scandal broke out. Before the affairs, Tiger Woods was somebody that everybody aspired to be. He was a success both on and off the golf course. He was associated with top brands like Nike Golf, Accenture, AT&T, TAGHeuer and so on.

But then, when news of his affairs trickled in many of his sponsors decided to leave him. It no longer mattered that Tiger Woods was still a world-class golfer. What seemed bigger was that Tiger was not honest, loyal or trustworthy. Image isn’t everything, even for the Indian outsourcing industry. Clients look for outsourcing partners who can be trusted and who can associate with them for the long haul. Indian outsourcing firms must adhere to age-old values of transparency, loyalty and honesty, and practice good ethics in order to gain in the long run.

Take control of the situation. Don’t give room for speculation!

The third lesson deals with how Indian outsourcing industry should deal with a crisis situation such as the one that Tiger Woods is facing right now. When news of the scandal broke, Woods chose to be silent, till that point of time, where he was forced to speak up and give a very public apology. But by then, things went out of hand. Everyone speculated. The mistresses spoke. And there was very little left for Woods to say.

In a crisis situation such as this, when reputation is at stake, it’s always best to be speak up first, own up to the mistake and be very transparent. That’s a very valuable lesson for the Indian outsourcing industry. If Tiger Woods had come out clean at the first instance, so much speculation could have been avoided. When you give room for people to make their own assumptions, things can go out of hand. Tiger Woods late apology seems almost redundant. Being pro-active in a crisis situation and owning up to a mistake upfront, would help clear the air and help you retain the client’s trust.

Ask for a second chance. Work twice as hard to re-build your reputation!

When things go wrong, as they are surely bound to, it’s better to apologize right away and ask for a second chance. Tiger Woods took a long time to do that. But finally he did apologize and hopes to turn a new leaf. When dealing with oversees clients, Indian outsourcing firms face several challenges. Mistakes do occur due to miscommunication, lack of understanding between client and vendor, cultural differences, logistics issues, etc. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the business relationship.

Apologize for mistakes and ask for a second chance. Work hard to rebuild your reputation with the client. The client will surely appreciate your efforts. And you may gain back the trust of your client. Look how Mahindra Satyam has bounced back after all the bad press. Tiger Woods can bounce back. And so can any Indian outsourcing firm that’s ready to go the extra mile to salvage its reputation.