While many families and children prepare for back-to-school across the U.S., I wanted to share some reflections on our “summer school” and what was a tremendous season of learning for our community.
We’ve talked about our shared mission together as “Transforming work for a billion people by 2025.” Progress towards that goal foremost is about bringing together all of you: the businesses, platforms, workers, thinkers, coaches, and academics already doing the transformative work. Together, that allows us to begin to collect and standardize knowledge that might move our ecosystem from something often on the fringes to something “ordinary and boring” – something that could be widely adopted.
I’ve come to think about it as a flywheel like this:
Coaches Training and the Networked Organization Framework
The model really came to life this summer as we pursued a shared framework (The Networked Organization) and a coaches training dubbed the Open Talent Professional Certification Program (OTPCP).
OTPCP fits squarely in those steps above of removing friction for the mass market, and ultimately driving success. We know that for every business adopting new talent models at scale, there is an external consultant or internal coach guiding the way.
So, if we could equip new professionals to feel confident in this space, might we speed up the process of enterprises finding success?
The initial training comprised a cohort of eight participants, four virtual sessions over the course of eight weeks, and an enterprise client who served as a central use case for the work.
Delivered by a dream team of facilitators – Barry Matthews and Bryn Barlow from Re-Source, Dyan Finkhousen from Shoshin Works, and Balaji Bondili from Deloitte – the OTPCP was everything you could ask out of a first experiment. Simply being in the room meant saturation in the clearest thinking about the shifting workplace, and similarly, the exercise exposed clear areas for improvement.
Congratulations to our initial eight graduates of the training. Each would admit they only scratched the surface of what they would like to learn, but in a nascent industry, we gladly certify these participants as the best equipped guides for organizations who are asking how open talent fits in their strategy:
- Balaji Bondili
- Dyan Finkhousen
- John Healy
- Mina Bastawros
- Dale Pearce
- Bryan Pena
- Steve Rader
- Ashley Boudoin
Key Learning and What’s Next
As we stepped back from the OTPCP, debriefed with participants, and surveyed everything else happening in the market, some clear themes emerged:
- We still have a lot of work to build a common language and set of processes. OTPCP participants learned great approaches, but it was more like multiple unique and parallel streams of thought, than one merged river
- We essentially started with the graduate class, the 401 level course on transforming organizations
- We have been focused on the playbook for a top-down (C-Suite and consultant-led) approach
- Organizational transformation remains the goal for massive outcomes, but is a long, complex process
- On behalf of our new coaches, and for the technology platforms who bring forward talent and innovation process, there is substantial work to be done at the foundational level
One of our facilitators, Balaji Bondili, clarified some of this thinking for me when he described his journey: “I didn’t consider myself an expert in open talent. I’m just a super user of the talent platforms and share what I’ve learned.” To get to the 401, we have to go through 101, 201, and 301.
I’ve been pondering a lot what that means, and what Open Assembly’s unique role might be in driving that flywheel towards transformation. I think for a long time (maybe always), coaches and consultants will be a core piece in the puzzle. I want to continue to support and grow those coaches. And I do think top-down, C-Suite support, is required for this project of work transformation to get the traction it needs. In the next few months, we’ll be advancing the coaches training and the framework mainly through the writing of a book alongside Jin Paik of the Laboratory for Innovative Science at Harvard (working title Open, Agile, and Networked, to be published by Harvard Business Review sometime next spring).
On the other side of the coin, I think our movement needs practical, 101 “bottom up” learning. So many people are already using freelancers and the human cloud to get work done, but haven’t yet named that as something important. They are sitting on a competitive advantage that they don’t yet know how to harness. Additionally, there is obvious friction (some known and some unknown) that keeps people as infrequent users instead of becoming super users of open talent solutions.
So, in addition to the book and the ongoing work of forming and supporting our community, our team will be exploring a new 101 or Quick Start training aimed at addressing the needs of manager-level individuals. We want to aid new “green shoots” of successful pilot projects in every organization. If you have thoughts on this work or would like to participate, please be in touch with Brian Salts-Halcomb.
It’s a very exciting time to be involved in the Open Talent movement. There is so much to learn and, more importantly, many opportunities to make work better for all. We don’t have all the answers. And, we don’t even know all the questions. There is one thing we do know; the transformation of work is happening at an unprecedented rate and it shows no sign of slowing down.