Digital Disruption - Competencies on demand - learn from Exponential Organizations

Mandag, 9. november 2015

Working in Exponential Organizations (ExO) aiming to disrupt existing businesses provide HR with new challenges which are important to any HR department. In this post I present issues that concerns how we look at the workforce of a given company in the light of how ExO's operate.

One of the external attributes of the ExO is Staff on Demand. This is necessary because the ExO has focus on speed, functionality and flexibility in order to grow and out perform the market at the necessary rates.

Traditionally corporations was harnessing talent through full-time exclusive employment and looking at the amount of time people spent at a common location. But the ExO looks at all its resources with a view to minimize the fixed cost, and address the fact that the competencies of leaders and employees become obsolete faster than 10 to 20 years ago. Based on this HR needs to look at and analyze how the external staff opportunities can be used for internal competency gain.

Using external staff as part of internal staff

One option is to bring in individual or third party contractors. Go through all the areas of key competencies of the company. Take for instance a large corporation with a mix of skilled personel. Go through each group and try to see how it would be possible to replace internal straff with external staff.

It is not necessarily a question of outsourcing a whole area of competencies. It can be looked at like a patchwork. Maybe 20% in one area and 80% replacement in another. The exercise is part of taking a fresh look at the competencies of the company. Even if it is not possible HR should at least have looked at it and have an argument for why it is not possible. This exercise should be part of ongoing organizational audits.

Growth in competency platforms

Related to the above HR should follow companies that are platforms for in- and outsourcing competencies. As an example of this the Gigwalk platform organizes a large workforce that a company can employ for certain tasks (gigs).

Asume a retailer wants to check locations and how they are working for their products. They put out a gig on the Gigwalk platform and the gigwalkers in that given location report in for a service. They can then through the platform return data intelligence on how the company's products are displayed in the different stores and other vital informations physically obtained on location.This can be done in days and at a reasonable price. 

Then there is Taskrabbit where IT jobs and research jobs can be outsourced. Here it is HR's job to keep track of the possibilities and constantly evaluate what possiblities there are for their organizations. An idea would be to run test projects to see how it might add value.

Using competitions to innovate and supplement internal key expertice

Kaggle is a platform where you can launch a competition to solve a specific scientific or analytic problem your company may have. Netflix used it to optimize its algoritm substantially improving the accuracy of predictions about how much someone is going to enjoy a movie based on their movie preferences. Kaggle is one of the world’s largest community of data scientists, statisticians, and machine learning engineers. Netflix would have no way of knowing who to employ in order to make sure this challenge was solved. Kagglers demonstrate the skills to solve the toughest problems across many industries. Kaggle has scientists and statisticians from all over the world competing for millions of dollars.

Looking at how to use external competencies to increase flexibility will be one of the main tasks for HR in any company working towards becoming an exponential organisation.

References: Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail published by Diversion Books. In Danish Eksponentielle Organisationer på