I agree, Michael. I am envisioning the evolution of a hybrid where the core organizational functions are established in a more traditional structure, but the new products and service lines are much more flexible and designed to adjust to supply/demand cost/profit, etc. Thus, the serivce/knowledge jobs would be contracted professional and would become a regular part of the structure - not in the way it is oursourced or downsized today.
This somewhat represents also the ideas of Geoffrey Moore in his book "Dealing with Darwin", which also used Cisco as an example.
I agree that this is outsourcing - but that word has a lot of negative connotations swept up with it.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter's take is that this leaderless state could be good for only completing small tasks. Large-scale operations that require ongoing management and optimization probably would not be a good fit
Michael, good points and yes, I believe it is a new way to organize. Pixar has used this model and beat their competition repeatedly.
Actually, Kim, what I understand about this new model is it goes much deeper than contract workers as supplemental. This uses teams and resources primarily so that the assembly of knowledge/skills, etc., is driven by the project. It is putting more of the resources into the delivery of the product or service.
This is actually what Peter Drucker wrote of in the 90's in Knowledge Work. Charles Handy has also written that the idea of corporate jobs will increasingly be replaced with contract work - again, as a predominate structure, not supplemental.
I don't know if we have all the details resolved yet but we can certainly see with the economy, increased use of outsourcing, etc., that the structures for jobs as they currently exist are not sustainable, so this represents a new direction that may provide better solutions.
So we have two work scenarios where this Ace Team might work -- freelance editorial and IT projects.
Agree that the management issue is important, but I think it would work case by case. For a sensitive or important IT implementation, it might not matter who managed it as long as there was internal buy-in and support from the internal IT team.
Editorial might be a bit different. You'd want to have someone who was representing the policies and "brand" of the publication, and that usually is someone internal.
An exception I recall from my own experience was when, years ago, the magazine I worked for was contracted to do multimedia news reporting on site at a major event owned by a third-party organization. We hired an outside editor to act as our manager and coordinate the entire thing. We traveled as a team to the show, did the reporting on TV, the Web, and in print. This outside contractor led us splendidly. We did a great job. Then we all went home happily.
It worked for us. And that was more than a decade ago!
It sounds like an exciting concept, Michael, but I wonder if there's anything new about it other than the scale. Thinking back to my first days as a journalist, the weekly magazine I worked for had an editor, a small number of permanent editorial staff, and sourced most of its content from freelancers.
What's new here? Maybe a more rapid turnover of contract workers (freelancers); the increased potential for crowdsourcing free content (a result to some extent of a big surplus of content creators in the current economy) and - this is the one which interests me - freelance management. I wonder how widespread the practice of hiring managers for short-term projects is, or will become?
Very interesting concept. There are those issues of on-going "ownership" and management depending upon the industry but it certainly gives one pause to think about how this could be done and the possible consequences of doing it within one's own company.
Exec project teams sound great, kind of like the Navy Seals deployments. They are formed for specific purposes, carry a certain level of prestige because of that, and disband after the job is done and before the love is lost.
Sounds terrific. I'm wondering whether this approach is realistic for all industries, though. Unless you change the structure of an organization to allow for this kind of temporary but absorbing deployment of people's time, it could backfire in work left undone and projects neglected.
The very low-tech "scrum" project technique introduces "crowd talking" to projects and also sets the entire crowd to problem solving. So far, these new social-media-style meetings appear to have supercharged project execution.
Yahoo's new CEO can't go back to what Yahoo was; that's how it got to what it is! Instead she has to look at something that Yahoo has always rejected, which is a relationship with the telcos and cablecos. They'd love a partner in creating service applications.
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