Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Virtualising the Workforce

I've been intrigued in recent days by the idea of procuring virtual workforces to complete projects successfully bid for by lead organisations. One or two leading organisations in the UK are toying with bringing such a service to market. The proposition is particularly useful for smaller businesses, aiming to bid for more business but wary of commitments to recruit a permanent workforce on the off-chance of winning. It works thus: A business has proven expertise to structure and deliver a service to a customer but does not have the capacity to flex to meet demand. It engages a third party with access to skilled resources to back its bid and on winning the business, the project team is deployed in the name of the contract winner to deliver the goods. Such a model relies upon clear leadership and competence of the lead organisation, proven skills and capacity from the service provider offering the skills required. But, its a realistic model for the more fluid organisational world that we are migrating towards. It offers the same sort of flexibility to scale that Virtualisation and Cloud offer, and for the skilled individual, the ability to gain valuable experience and add to a CV in times which are proving challenging for permanent employment prospects. Its a win, win, win. For those of you who think that this is a new concept, I commend Charles Handy's book Inside Organisations and particularly his work on the Clover-Leaf organisation. This is a 1980's vintage piece of work in which Handy, a management researcher, speculated on the form of future organisations and the decline of the first job to retirement employer in place to that date. Its a live topic today, see

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