A liquid workforce, one that draws from a variety of resources and capabilities and can be adjusted to meet business needs, is becoming a competitive differentiator in today’s rapidly changing business environment. The driving factor behind the liquid workforce is adaptability. An adaptive workforce is one in which the utilisation of internal and external resources can be tailored to meet business requirements in order to optimise cost and revenue uplift.

In my previous post, I shared what an adaptive liquid workforce is and the difference it can make to your business. Now I’d like to share what it means to organise for adaptability so you can help your firm make the most of the resources available to you in a liquid environment.

Transitioning to a new workforce business model

Traditional workforces are established around matching a set of fixed skills and experience in the structure of “jobs and roles” to the business model. In this scenario, an organisation staffs its workforce to meet overall organisational objectives. While this model may have worked in the past post-industrial world, it doesn’t allow for the foresight and flexibility required to meet the demands of today’s disruptive business environment. Some firms have transitioned away from this model to a more project-based/agile workforce style, where resources are reassigned to meet project needs.

Progressive firms, those that are successfully meeting today’s business challenges, organise their workforces around business outcomes by breaking roles into tasks. These firms are able to tap into a variety of resources―both internal and external, human and technology-driven―in a very flexible way to deliver the business outcomes that define success―such as rapid innovation, greater efficiency, reduced costs, and satisfied customers.

Organising around business outcomes

Organising around business outcomes and breaking down tasks is a multi-faceted effort involving three critical focus areas:

  1. Applying analytics to understand real-time organisational capabilities.
  2. Ensuring the organisation has the right capabilities and understands its behavioral requirements at the right time, including establishing learning as a core competency.
  3. Using technology to link resources in order to execute innovative projects.

In terms of process, organising around business outcomes begins with defining customer value and making the commitment to and investment in delivering that value. The next step is acquiring the right knowledge and capabilities that can deliver that value. This is where the liquid workforce engages with the process. Core teams and project teams can be staffed from a variety of sources, including a curated workforce, workforce/task platforms, or talent market places. Lastly, a firm must identify the best-fit delivery approach for the outcome it wants to achieve.

Selecting the right liquid workforce capabilities in any given situation is based on―in the simplest terms:

  • Identifying the core competencies needed to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Supplementing in-house capabilities with the entire spectrum of external resources―whether that be consultants, contract workers, or digital capabilities.

In my next post, I’ll share how you can help your firm engage a liquid workforce to deliver the business results you want.

For more information about adopting the liquid workforce into your workforce strategy, please see Accenture’s 2016 Technology Vision report, Liquid Workforce: Bank on “fluid” teams focused on results

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