This episode is part of the Systems engineering for non-systems people series.
Make vs. buy is a frequently encountered paradigm. It starts out with a need for a product (or service). A customer has a need and they must decide to buy something off the shelf and customize it to fit their needs or to make it from scratch. We do this all the time when we buy restaurant food vs. making it ourselves at home.
The off the shelf item is cheaper than making it from scratch because when you buy someone’s product you are leveraging all the research and development they have done in the making of that product. The benefits are cost, timeliness (it already exists), and customer service. The drawbacks are usually in the form of customization. An off the shelf product may not meet all your needs. Usually most of your needs are met, but there will be a handful of needs that you will struggle to get, and some needs may never be met.
When it comes to services, you can choose to do something yourself our outsource it (or delegate). The benefits to outsourcing are that you hire experts to do it vs. making amateur mistakes yourself. Also outsourcing saves time – while you pay someone else to do your task, this frees up your time to do what you do best.
Specialization of labor is something modern society benefits from – the ability to have a few people become experts in their field. Rather than us needing to be a jack of all trades you can pay someone to do tasks in exchange for money. Money simply allows us to more easily calculate the benefit of an activity or product, and it facilitates the exchange of them. Imagine if we didn’t have money, you would cut grass for the plumber who would fix your toilet. Inefficient.
I’ve heard many pundits the field of coaching preach the power of outsourcing and how that saves you time to work on your core business. This is true information if in fact you are an expert in your field (doctor) and your time is better spent performing inside your expertise (operating, researching, etc) rather than cutting your grass or repairing drywall.
There are benefits of doing things yourself. for one you save money on labor. Just be careful to know what you are doing before you do it. With the internet and YouTube, you can get schooled in the fine arts of your endeavor before you embark on the journey.
Doing things gives you a sense of accomplishment. This is good for the soul. In prior podcasts I discussed how important it is for you to get small wins under your belt in order to tackle large goals. Accumulate small wins and build momentum.
Learning to do things yourself gives you more independence and resilience. It’s good to have capabilities and not rely on others to do things for you. I have known people who lived in a house full of broken stuff, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and not know how to fix anything. It’s always a lack of will – anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it. Think Growth Mindset.
In addition to getting wins under your belt, doing things gives you a sense of accomplishment. Every time you see that thing you fixed or installed, you feel good about it and yourself.
And don’t forget it can be all about fun! I thoroughly enjoy doing things around the house. I enjoy the challenge and appreciate the results. Learning how to do things brings a tremendous level of satisfaction.
Be careful, when your friends learn about your ability to fix stuff, you will get a lot of calls!