Gig Workers

Talk of the gig economy has been prevalent in the past two years, but much of it – especially in 2020 due to the reaction to the pandemic – has centered around Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and other consumer-facing service providers. But what about your organization? How have you already, or how might you, leverage more gig workers, more crowdsourcing, or more of an open talent mindset and approach to workforce planning? More broadly, how might you transform work and your workforce, given these and the many other sources of talent available from your talent ecosystem? 

To help us discuss and think about this topic, we were joined by John Winsor, an author, entrepreneur, and expert on open talent and open innovation. A thought leader who also has lots of real-world experience, John is currently the executive-in-residence at Harvard Business School’s Laboratory for Innovation Science (LISH). John’s books include “Beyond the Brand,” “Spark,” “Flipped”, and the best-selling “Baked In.” John is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review, The Guardian, Forbes and Digiday. John is a co-creator of the Center for the Transformation of Work, and is Founder and CEO of Open Assembly, a leading learning resource and consulting marketplace for the future of work and the open talent economy. 

Here are some of the highlights from the conversation:

  • To set up the focus on open talent and crowdsourcing, we first considered i4cp's Talent Ecosystem Integration Model.
  • Winsor noted that many organizations are based on industrial-age structures, management thinking, and approaches to finding and using talent.
  • Winsor and i4cp co-founder Jay Jamrog described the success that NASA has had using crowdsourced solutions (via Innocentive) to specific challenges, e.g., improving the detection and prediction of sun spots (a critical issue for the safety of astronauts and other concerns).
  • Winsor noted that a study of found that although at the time only a little over a dozen Fortune 500 companies were officially engaged with and using the platform to leverage freelance/etc. talent, some 70% of them were in fact using the platform for specific talent on one or more projects.
  • On the flip-side, many organizations don’t realize how many of their employees are offering their talent via freelance and crowdsourcing platforms to other organizations. Winsor noted the story of Wipro, who actually compensates their employees who do work at TopCoder because they see it as a learning and development opportunity.
  • By leveraging crowdsourcing models, you can vastly increase the speed at which you test products, find answers to challenging questions, etc.
  • Winsor's work is currently focusing on reviewing and rating open talent platforms (of which there are over a thousand) regarding IP control, scale, compliance factors, etc.
  • Winsor noted that in many key ways, we have moved from a knowing culture to a learning culture, and on average freelancers spend a lot more time learning than full time employees. The importance of having a learning culture is critical to overcoming some hesitance around leveraging crowdsourcing and open talent to solve problems. In short, all organizations need to always remember that there are better and more great minds outside the organization than inside it.
  • Passion for one's work is critical for engagement, creativity, and ultimately optimal productivity. Winsor noted that some large companies over time become "passion deserts," a problem that can be reduced by tapping into gig workers and crowdsourcing models. He noted a book from 2020 by Adam Davidson, The Passion Economy.

This meeting is exclusively for members of the Workforce Planning Exchange. If you'd like to participate, please contact us to see if you qualify. If you are an i4cp member, please log in to access the registration/meeting details.
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