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
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:
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- To set up the focus on open
talent and crowdsourcing, we first considered i4cp's Talent Ecosystem
- 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
freelancer.com 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
- 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
- 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.