Locating Your Software Development in MN


With all the accelerated political discussions during this presidential primary season, there has been considerable discussion about outsourcing, protecting the middle class, the economy and jobs. What is little discussed, however, is that the US has already outsourced much of our manufacturing base (thus directly impacting the middle class). What is not as apparent is that we’re also outsourcing more and more of our intellectual work in finance and software engineering.

Of course, this causes me great concern as someone who cares about our country, my children and my someday grandchildren, our State of Minnesota and most of all this premise: if you believe, as I do, that the Internet “platform” is the 21st century conduit for innovation, human connection and collaboration — and is the most “The World is Flat” accelerator of competition in intellectual capital globally — then you’d better be very concerned that we’re essentially shipping our high value, intellectually important work overseas and empowering our future competitors to become the software powerhouses of tomorrow.

What’s more important, however, is that onshore work is often qualitatively higher, is created faster and innovation is higher. Every single alpha geek I know — and some who run major software engineering groups for some of the most visible and successful companies on earth — fight to keep as many of the highest value (as opposed to low value, maintenance type) software creation jobs onshore as they can since they know the exponential increase in cross-talk, cultural differences and communications difficulties that ensue when people are a world away. Makes accomplishing timelines and enjoying the creativity and artistry inherent in US-based development much easier if those jobs are here.

Since nothing happens without a vision or specific outcomes in mind, software visions and outcomes are usually extraordinarily challenging to get across to people whose native language, customs, cultures and work ethic (not to mention time zones) are markedly different than ours.

Here’s one answer and a cogent argument that is a quick read. It will give you one location to consider strongly (i.e., Minnesota) if you want A-class developers, a midwestern work ethic, an instant grasp of your vision or outcomes — and enjoy a trail already blazed by such companies as Adobe, Macromedia, Microsoft and Sun. Take a moment now and considering embracing what my friend and serial entrepreneur, Dan Grigsby, has just posted in his Plan for Minnesota.

This post originally published on Connecting the Dots in January of 2008


  1. says

    Agree that there are fantastic creative resources in MN, that working domestically is faster than offshore for creative projects and I will add that MN rates may be compelling vs. other metros. However…..

    What is a midwestern work ethic? I am sick to death of hearing about the “midwestern work ethic” and “midwestern values”. I’ve been in the midwest for over 3 years. There is no difference here. Native midwesterners say there is….but there isn’t.

    I have worked in NY, Boston, SF, LA, Omaha, and Chicago. In each location I worked I have found a consistent percentage of hard working rockstars and lazy idiots. Same with ethics.

  2. says

    Steve, great post — and nice touch linking to Dan’s excellent treatise. That deserves wider distribution.

    In regard to Kevin’s comment above, I would add this:

    No, Minnesota, and the Midwest in general, do not have a corner on the market for hard workers or ethical people. But we do have more nice people — it must be so, because “Minnesota Nice” is one of our state mottos! :-) (And every trip I make to NYC reminds me it has real meaning.)

    But here’s another key aspect of Midwestern values that is widely documented, including in tech circles: less turnover. People tend to stay in their jobs here longer — show more commitment. Somebody actually tracks these turnover stats — the AEA, the Dept of Labor, or others. And I suspect the MN High Tech Assoc is happy to point them out to anyone who’ll listen… :-) I’ve heard this anecdotally, too, from several people, and startups, with experience in the Valley. It is real.

    Less turnover plus lower costs: a pretty darn effective argument.

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