opting in and project-based work

Image by Pathfinder Linden

Image by Pathfinder Linden

I think we are moving to an opt-in world where employees opt-in to projects, leaders opt-in and emerge into their roles.

-Rachel Happe, The Social Organization

Rachel Happe’s recent post about the future of hiring, management, and leadership presents an intriguing model for organizations.  She wrote even more thoroughly about her hopes/predictions back in December.

Essentially, she’s talking about using the model long established by consultants, who are assembled as a team on a per project basis, based on their precise suitability to and passion for the type of project under consideration.  In between jobs, they are “on the beach.”

The difference is, employees are hired by the corporation, and stay within the corporation both during and between “assignments.”  This isn’t a model of mass outsourcing and freelancing — far from it. It’s a radical way of looking at human resources, and project management.

Those that always get snapped up for projects should be rewarded while those that are regularly returned to the pool get put on development plans.  This is more or less the way consulting firms work…why not other types of corporations? (more)

What I like about it is it creates an ongoing marketplace for each worker’s skills within the corporation, and gives each worker a renewable and sustainable incentive to take ownership of their own development, to network across silos, to market themselves to their peers, and to more heavily invest in the results and process of their group work.

How would this change group project work? What would be the unintended consequences, for the organization and the worker?  Would it pan out the way Rachel (and I) think it might?  What do you think?


3 responses to “opting in and project-based work

  1. Hi Beth –

    Thanks for picking up this thread and playing with it…I’m thinking a lot about how to structurally change organizations to illicit more passion, more satisfaction…and also more productivity from everyone. I’m not sure if business leaders…or individual contributors for that matter…are quite ready for this structure but I absolutely think we need to start experimenting with different models. It’s too risky to be dependent on one person, i.e. the cult of the CEO.


  2. Interesting concept. I blogged about a related idea, and how entering not just entering a world of Web 2.0, but Nonprofit 3.0. More thoughts here:

    Jeremy Gregg, CFRE
    VP of Development
    Center for Nonprofit Management

  3. Nice idea. I just wonder if this could not also have the opposite effect: instead of leading to an open and transparent culture, competition could be increasing so much that employees trust each other less than before. What do you think?


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