I’ve written a lot about the future of work and the gig economy, however the most important model may be what I’ll call the X-Men Organization. The X-Men Organization looks just like a normal organization on the surface, but is run by employees who are super-powered by virtue of their access to a talent cloud.
A normal organization, with a lot of employees in jobs, might look like this:
The equivalent X-Men Organization, one producing the same output, would look like this:
The stars orbiting each X-Man employee represent the on-demand talent each person can access to get their work done. It’s reasonable to suppose each X-Man will be able to do three times as much as a regular employee who does all their work themselves.
The advantages of the X-men organization start with the usual ones we get from using free agents:
- Access to as much talent as we need when we need it. There will be no more staff sitting on the bench or work delayed because there’s a shortage of workers.
- Access to specialized talent. With an X-men organization there is no need to get an employee to do work they are not particularly good at, that work gets sent out to a free agent who is an expert in the area.
- Access to inexpensive talent to do low end tasks. No more will a highly paid employees do low end work; they’ll be empowered to send that out to the talent cloud where someone else can do it cheaper.
However, I suspect the real advantage of the X-Men Organization is the agility that comes from having fewer employees. An organization of 30-odd people is a lot easier to manage than one with 100-odd staff. An X-Men Organization with 500 employees will have fewer levels of management than the equivalent old-style organization of 1500 people.
The great thing about this model is that you don’t have to be a brilliant organization designer to set it up. It is a form you can evolve into; just slowly add access to cloud talent, and figure out how to use it over time.
You’ll see a clear analogy between the talent cloud powered X-Man Employee and the technology powered employee. Both models let one person do much more than in the past. Now instead of empowering staff with access to a PC, you empower them with access to talent.
Here’s what you can do to get started:
- Think of employees as hubs that enable work to be done; rather than as workers who do the work themselves. In the X-Men Organization everyone is a manager.
- Create processes that allow employees to use the talent cloud. Given them a budget, give them access to talent platforms, build processes for using the talent cloud, provide training.
- Create processes so that organization learns how to best use and control the talent cloud. Any time you let employees spend money or send work outside the organization there are risks. These risks are all familiar ones, nonetheless organizations need to develop an understanding of how they manifest themselves in this kind of organization.
This is the future, it’s ready to go, let’s get moving.