Yesterday Jin Paik and I turned in the manuscript for our book, the Open Talent Solution to the editors at Harvard Business Press. As I told our editor, Jeff Kehoe, this morning. As open talent (freelancing, gig work, and crowdsourcing) is still such a nascent field the process of writing a book has been a bit like trying to build an airplane all the while flying in the fog of an emerging future. While open talent has been around for a while now — I started my first company, Radar Communications, in 2000 — it is only beginning to cross the chasm from start-up to enterprise customers.
Certainly, we’re seeing the world of talent change fast with over 40 million unfilled tech jobs in 2021, a number that is forecasted to increase to 150 million by 2025. As we’ve worked with many large organizations to adopt open talent we’ve seen the same pattern. It starts with trying to hire full-time employees. This is driven by a pre-Covid mindset that was “If I don’t see my talent working, I don’t trust them.”
The Pandemic caused this mindset to shift rapidly, in the wake of remote work. Now, many managers, while probably still longing for the old days of owning their talent, are shifting to access talent and managing outcomes from that talent. This, coupled with the lack of talent to hire full-time, has caused many to turn to outsourcing companies. One of the advantages of this strategy is that most large enterprises already have a relationship with the outsourcing companies and the enterprises know that the outsourcing companies can meet their compliance and security needs. Hence, outsourcing companies have turned to the contingent labor market only to find that this industry is suffering from the same shortages as they are.
They are now quickly turning to the platforms but many are finding that the platforms are still early in the development of their compliance and security processes. As this grows, with the help of consultancies, like Open Assembly, this market will explode.
You can see the nascent nature of the field when you look at the statistics around organizational adoption. Through our research, for the book, we’ve discovered that all of the major platforms were set up to act as a self-service portal for small businesses and individuals to access freelance talent. Hence, the level of processes and sophistication needed to work with larger enterprises is only now beginning to emerge. As we look at the overall open talent marketplace enterprise relationships only represent 3 in 10,000 of the overall platforms ecosystem customers.
One other key to ensure that the full advantage of open talent is taken advantage of is the skill of learning how to taskify the work. Let’s say a CEO decides to pursue an AI strategy. In the traditional mindset, she tasks the chief of HR to find and recruit a technology leader with a deep knowledge of AI. In today’s labor market, that could take up to six months. Once in place, they’ll need another six months to assemble the right team. After that, it could take another six months to develop the strategy. Unfortunately, the world is moving much faster. By the time the AI strategy is developed, the technology might have changed enough to render it obsolete.
Now let’s think about an alternative mindset based on accessing the right talent instead of owning it. Focusing on the task, the CEO asks her head of strategy to bring together the best AI experts in their industry. The CSO logs onto a platform like GLG or Business Talent Group and invites five top AI thinkers to participate in a virtual workshop the next week. When the meeting is over, they have a high-level strategy mapped out. To develop it in detail, they break it down into tasks. Let’s say there are 25 of them. The CSO goes back out to the platform and finds the best people to work on each of them and gives them a deadline of a week. In three weeks and for the price of a few dozen per diems the CEO has a detailed strategy that has been designed and vetted by the best people in the world and can start implementing it.
Meaning comes from knowing every step of a process and focusing on the outcomes. As a collective, we’re only starting the process of organizational adoption of open talent. And, the Open Assembly/The Center for the Transformation of Work community is at the center of it.
And, in and of itself provides a lot of meaning to all of us.
Come join the community.