I’m guessing here, but I bet outsourcing is the reason Google’s CEO is now personally involved to address a “debate” about the hamburger emoji.

Outsourcing works when the work product is well-defined and understood across cultural boundaries.  For example, making a t-shirt in Malaysia is similar to making a t-shirt in Mexico or the US because the standards are well-defined.  The measurements and fabric can be specified in such a way that the work can be outsourced.

But what happens when a company outsources something with vague standards?  Or what happens when the context doesn’t translate across cultural boundaries?  My guess is that Google outsourced emoji creation to a country in which hamburgers are not a staple of the local cuisine.  And from there, a weak set of requirements resulted in a hamburger where the cheese is underneath the burger. No one should express surprise when the end result is a mistake.

(Sidenote, I’d love a confirmation from Google that my guess is wrong!)

What is surprising is the Google CEO’s involvement.  This seemingly mundane “problem” should be far down his priority list, if indeed it made the list at all.  Sadly, this involvement does follow a recent trend of business and government leaders getting involved in small, irrelevant “problems” when MUCH larger issues abound.  Perhaps America wouldn’t have lost its way if we focused on real issues and returned to common decency and common sense.

The pivot point for outsourcing is to ensure the work-product is well-defined so the supplier can succeed.  Otherwise, your company may end up in a pointless, albeit mildly entertaining, debate about cheese and ground beef.  The pivot point for leaders is to invest/spend their capital and sweat equity on important projects.

The Dangers of Outsourcing Emojis
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