Language allows us to communicate in concepts – to share ourselves – just as I’m doing in this blog post. Yet, it also confines us because if there’s no simple ready-to-use word for it, we’re are forced to abbreviate our expression and thus meaning – or utter lengthy TL;DR monologues. For instance, much of our language assumes duality, such as Yes/No or Good/Bad. I propose that, in an effort to liberate language and thus ourselves more, by bringing trinity into our daily language.
Yes/No – A computer science engineer can tell you that machines only understand 0 and 1, binary language. There’s a current for 0 and another current for 1. What happens when we turn off the computer? It’s neither 0 nor 1. There’s a third stage. What do you say when your significant other asks you “Honey, do I look fat in this?” Having a third choice for yes and no would be pretty nice, eh? I propose “moo” as the third option deriving it from the Japanese word off the same sound. Your computer is in a moo state if you turn it off; and, most importantly, you’re not sleeping on the couch for either lying or being hurtful to your significant other.
Good/Bad – Excluding religion, nothing is absolutely good, and nothing is absolutely bad. An economist would argue that there’s no such thing as a free lunch – everything has an opportunity cost. An automated ticketing machine for your subway is faster, cheaper, and works 24/7, thus its good. Conversely, we could argue that same ticketing machine is bad because now there are fewer jobs, short people can reach the buttons, and tourists can’t read the instructions. That’s bad, right? Mh, ticketing machines are neither bad nor good. Third option, please?
Why bring up Good/Bad at all after discussing Yes/No/Moo? Yes/No/Moo is a logical. Good/Bad is a judgement, a human judgement. Imagine a beautiful sunset – it’s good because it’s beautiful. The observer judges the sunset to be beautiful. Once we remove the observer, can a sunset still be beautiful? One could argue that it’s an intrinsic beauty. An observer is not needed for it to be beautiful. We really need a third option to good and bad to express when something is neither good nor bad, yet has value of a third option.
I’ve been on Soylent for a while and experimented with different solutions to break the monotony of a Soylent diet. Particularly, I tested three ways to break the monotony with different variations. One was to alternate and enhance the flavor of Soylent, the other was to try different levels of diet replacement: 100%, 75%, and 50%. And last I changed the texture. Here’s what I learned.
The homemade Soylent version from my previous post is pretty yummy all by itself. But even the best flavors gets old after a few days. I found frozen fruits mix well, and they cool down the Soylent if you are consuming it right after mixing. The best fruit still is one or two fresh bananas. I also tried all kinds of fruits. There wasn’t really a fruit that didn’t mix. Perhaps stay away from Raspberries, not because of the flavor but because the seeds make the texture of the Soylent rougher.
Alternatively, peanut butter or any other nut butter works, too, and so does chocolate syrup. With these options, one needs to be careful with the quantity as it will change the nutritional values and may add more than desired to the calorie count. My personal favorite is peanut butter.
I tried 100%, 75% and 50% of my diet to be Soylent. Because one of my housemate is an awesome cook, 100% was tough. I wouldn’t allow myself to eat her homemade cooking. It makes you want to curl up and silently weep. Holding a 75% percent Soylent diet was even harder because you could have some but not all. You get the teaser but never the full-feature movie. Imagine you never learn who Rosebud or Luke’s father was. 50% is convenient and easy. I ate Soylent when no good food options are around or when time is limited. 50% had also the least beneficial health impact in comparison. Overall, because of Soylent, I became more conscious of my food choices.
Texture plays a bigger role than one might normally expect. My experiment to turn Soylent into solid food failed. While the texture improved, the flavor got a whole lot worse. Conversely, prepping your Soylent like a smoothie is great. Substitute water with ice-cubes and use your frozen fruits of choice. Yummy on a warm summer day!
What have you tried?
TL;DR: Overall positive experience, great health and financial benefits, monotony needs to be addressed, recipe below.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been living off homemade Soylent. For the uninitiated, Soylent is food, which contains all nutrients the human body needs. The idea of Soylent stems from Harry Harrison’s sci-fi novel Make Room! Make Room!, which explores a dystopia of unchecked population growth. Soylent is the commodity food for the masses and as common, as cheap and as available as drinking water. Personally, I would compared it to store-bought dog food. It has all the nutrients for healthy living. Totally monotonous in its flavor! Certainly after two weeks on Soylent, now I know how a dog must feel like about treats.
If the monotony can be overcome, Soylent has plenty to show for in benefits, especially financial and health. While on Soylent, my spending on food was reduced to just under $4 per day. I’ve lost weight – about 1/2 pound per day – and my body feels good, better mood, more energy. The first two days, my body was detoxing and I had a benign headache – probably from increased potassium and lower salt intake. I can’t say I was feeling hungry, just craving other flavors.
After a week, I started blending in a banana or some berries, which really enhanced the flavor but that wasn’t enough to break the monotony. My plan going forward is to make 70-80% of my diet Soylent (about 1,500 calories) and have one 400-600 calorie meal in a day.
1 day of Soylent, 2,000 calories
345g of Masa Harina
55g of Whey Protein Isolate
23g of GNC Mega Men Sports
6g of Potassium Citrate
4g of Iodized Salt
2g of Choline Bitartrate
50g of Soybean Oil
Mix all powders (except the Soybean Oil) into a 1 gallon Ziplock Bag. Close the Ziplock Bag well and toss it around until the powders have mixed well. With a blender, mix 1 liter of drinking water, the powder-mix from the Ziplock Bag and soybean oil into a shake, add more water until you have your preferred thickness. Optional: add bananas or berries for flavor, fresh or frozen. Consume chilled.
US Government DRI, 19-50 years of age, 2000 calories
|Total Fat (g)||65||65.9||101%|
|Saturated Fat (g)||10.36|
|Monounsaturated Fat (g)||11.4|
|Polyunsaturated Fat (g)||28.85|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids (g)||1.6||3.57||223%|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids (g)||17||30.98||182%|
|Total Fiber (g)||28||28.2||101%|
|Soluble Fiber (g)||0|
|Insoluble Fiber (g)||0|
|Vitamin A (IU)||3000||6644||10000||221%|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||1.3||33.6||100||2583%|
|Vitamin B12 (ug)||2.4||31.9||1331%|
|Vitamin C (mg)||90||192||2000||213%|
|Vitamin D (IU)||600||650||4000||108%|
|Vitamin E (IU)||20||25||1000||126%|
|Vitamin K (ug)||120||144||120%|
|Pantothenic Acid (mg)||5||34.359||687%|
So you decided that you rather not want to manage employees, their time-sheets, payroll benefits and hiring but focus on the results you reap from your business processes. You decided to work with a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) provider. What now?
Well organized BPO providers will take their new clients through three phases: Solutioning, Mobilization, and Delivery.
During the Solutioning period, the BPO provider learns about your needs and your business model. And you learn about the competencies of your BPO provider. The overall theme of this is planning for a win-win relationship between you and your BPO provider. (I’m not a big fan of the word “Solutioning” because it isn’t a word and it sounds more buzz than substance. I can’t seem to think of a better word to describe this phase, tho. Let me know if you can.)
You don’t want to buy employees, nor do you want to buy time-sheets; you want to buy results. That’s the greatest benefit your BPO provider can give you. I strongly recommend that you work under the principals of Auftragstaktik (Mission Style-Tactics) and convey your idea of results clearly to your BPO provider. This will enable your BPO provider to work and think along with you and for you.
Much has already been said about the importance of measuring… difficult to know if you’re getting results or not if you don’t measure them.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
Key Performance Indicators – These are your quantitative tools to measure input, output, throughput, vectors, rate, speed, you name it. These are the numbers you want to buy from your BPO provider because these numbers measure your results
- Goals and Objectives (GnO)
Goals and Objectives are similar to KPIs. You can follow a process to the letter and have perfect KPIs but still not have achieved your goal or objective. Charlie Brown comes to mind here – he does everything right and still fails. GnOs are typically difficult to measure with a numeric value, such as ethics or emotions – think “smiling over the phone” – yet vital to the overall success
- Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
- Selecting The Right Partner
This is the right time to finalize your selection and contract of your BPO provider. You have a clear idea of the results you want to and can buy from your BPO provider. When faced with a big or difficult decision, it’s best to break it down into many small decisions. The final big decision becomes then organic.
Mobilization, while a military term, refers here to hiring and training the right talent. This is when you work closely with your BPO provider. They source the talent, and you provide the manuals, guidelines and other tools that help the new talent to become experts on your business process.
- Selecting The Team (Hiring)
While the BPO provider should allow you to have a heavy hand in the hiring decisions, it’s best to trust your BPO provider with the hiring. Their understanding of the local labor market likely outstrips your knowledge. Plus, your BPO provider by now should have a good understanding of your needs because of the previous Solutioning phase.
To truly buy results, you want your team to be self-sufficient. Thus, you begin with training the trainer. Your BPO provider will very soon cross-train staff and have multiple workers, who can handle your account. This way knowledge is not lost due to turnover, and you benefit from having no interruptions caused by turn-over, sick or vacationing workers.
Very few if anybody ever became an expert overnight – even the most talented actors rehearse, the most talented musicians practice. Yngwie Malmasteen Da Vinci need reverences
- Selecting The Team (Hiring)
Reap the results! Your BPO operations are running. Your services are being delivered. While most get to the stage because they want to reduce cost, which it does. The unexpected realization for most here is how much time it saves them. Because your BPO provider has a clear understanding of your business goals – assuming you followed the Auftragstaktik model – your BPO team can act with little to no supervision on your behalf.
- Measuring KPI/GnO
Even though your BPO team is now super-awesome and independent thanks to your and your BPO provider’s work during the Solutioning and Mobilization phase, you want to regularly discuss the KPI/GnO with your team lead. Keep it challenging for them!
- Continuous Improvement/Tweaking
Because you’re measuring, you can keep tweaking and improving your business processes. If your team reaches goals to easily, set the bar a little higher.
- Measuring KPI/GnO
Written by Horst von Wendorff
It’s easy to fall for the obvious benefits of outsourcing your business processes. The lure of cost savings and becoming “sticker happy” can be great. And indeed, many call centers advertise on price. $8/hour, $7/hour, even $6/hour – in some countries it goes down to $1/hour. But the true measure for outsourcing success lies with Quality – not just on the BPO providers side but also from the client’s side. A BPO provider cannot be better than the client. So what is the one thing that contributes to BPO success the most?
Business Processes with Quality build-in
Quality is in the eye-of-the-beholder. Hence, the quality you seek needs to be defined and measurable – it really helps you and the BPO provider to be on the same page when it comes to delivering results. The first stage in building a BPO operation is the solution planning phase, before you go into mobilizing the workforce or the delivery. During the solution planning phase, you define the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and the Goals & Objectives (GNO) – ie the key components that deliver results. After all you don’t want to buy employees and time-sheets, you want to buy results. With those KPIs and GNOs in hand, you can then setup your operation for success.
Plug’n’play: Have a Plan – Have a Process
You should expect your BPO provider to understand and have extensive knowledge of their respective specialty, such as Customer Service or Social Media Marketing. But don’t assume them to be your business consultant developing the processes for you. BPO providers are here to execute your processes. You want to be plug’n’play for the BPO provider with clear business processes and standard operating procedures. Having said that, most BPO firms allow you to look over their shoulders and let you see what they are doing for other clients (case studies), which surely will provide you with insights and inspiration for your solution. Please note that not-so-ethical BPO providers may give you off-the-cuff “consulting advise” to get your business – but these are nothing more than remarks to overcome your objections during sales negotiations. Ask to speak with actual call center agents doing the job – let call center agents tell you first hand about their work.
Written by Horst von Wendorff