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The On-Demand Workforce: Agile, Adaptable, Accountable

Because businesses increasingly are required to do more with less, companies large and small are beginning to see the critical need for project-based, on-demand teams to drive business outcomes.

One of my favorite business books is Jim Collins’ classic bestseller Good to Great. He gets right to the heart of what causes workplace transformation:

“The executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there. No, they first go the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it. They said, in essence, ‘Look, I don’t really know where we should take this bus. But I do know this much: If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.’” – Jim Collins, Good to Great

Because businesses frequently have to do more with less, companies large and small are beginning to see the critical need for project-based, on-demand teams to drive business outcomes. They want three things: Agility. Adaptability. Accountability. That means they want to hire fast and hire right, and they want workers with a solutions mindset plus the speed and expertise required to get the job done. They want flexible people, flexible solutions, lower risk, on-demand teams, project-based. And they want people and partners who deliver.

There are several forces of work out there. Baby Boomers, Millennials, and the freelance workforce have preferences: control and choice. People only stay in jobs approximately 2-3 years, and in tech, this now is often only approximately 18 months. Recruiting full-time employees also has become a big part of any manager’s job. But this can take months. And if you needed help yesterday, that’s an issue.  Another challenge is retention. Also, from a retention standpoint, it’s not about recruiting, developing, and retaining people anymore. It’s about attracting, investing, and inspiring people. And, for the people who choose to work on-demand, they know they have to deliver to keep pace with their own competition.

The late technologist and United States Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper once said: “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.” In my next article, I’ll explore a new way of thinking: The Talent Shift Mindset and how you can put it to work to drive business results through the project-based approach.


Lisa Hufford is founder and CEO of Seattle-based Simplicity Consulting, a consultancy of experts that partners with technology companies to strategically deliver Enterprise Marketing Services. For more than five years, Simplicity has been named to the Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. Lisa has been named an Inc. Top 10 Female Entrepreneurs, and has been named by Ernst & Young as an Entrepreneurial Winning Woman. She is the author of Navigating the Talent Shift: How to Build On-Demand Teams That Drive Innovation, Control Costs, and Get Results.

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