Business agility or catastrophe — you decide.


I am patient. And I am impatient.

I am empathetic. And I am frustrated.

I understand the challenges businesses face to keep pace with changing times. But I’m not crying, either, when I read the obituary of yet another company that has refused to even try.

According to Catalant Technologies, a global leader in innovative workforce solutions, and a start-up I admire, enterprises that will thrive tomorrow share basic common ground: They possess an agile mindset when it comes to talent acquisition.

I’ve been preaching this for many years, so it’s nice to finally have some company in the good fight. The days of boasting about a maxed-out payroll, stuffed with full time employees, is now nothing to boast about at all. The on-demand, sharing economy is here, and the type of talent you hire should be a reflection of these larger global trends.

Man + Machine

Technology is outpacing the capacity of individuals to keep up. Skill obsolescence is real as technology continues to evolve faster than the skill set of any one person. Hiring a full-time employee is like a sinkhole of lost revenue and unrealized opportunity, since we can’t even predict which skills will be in demand 12 months from now, let alone five years from now.

We’re in a precarious position, but there are solutions out there for those courageous enough to innovate.

According to Benjamin Ping, director of the Center for the Future of Work, “The pace of change in underlying technology is now so fast that organizations increasingly need to change quicker than people can change. The only way organizations will be able to change is by changing their people.”

Access Trumps Acquisition

Catalant calls this phenomenon the Radically Agile Workforce; I call it the Generation We — a talent strategy and ideology built on the ability to access the right people, and the right skills, at the right time, without the constraints of job descriptions, office walls or geographic boundaries.

Moving forward, businesses must focus less on talent acquisition and more on talent access. Top talent will no longer tolerate acquisition. They want autonomy and flexibility. They won’t be caught working for a traditional boss, because guess what? They don’t have to! You can’t buy them, because they won’t let you. These craftsmen understand their financial value, but they also have new values. Chief among these is being their own boss! That’s why finding access to this on-demand, skilled workforce will be a critical piece of any operating model.

The real truth? It already is critical, and the ability of one enterprise to do this better than another will separate the victors from the losers. Harsh, yes. True, yes. Fortunately, if you haven’t woven these new HR strategies into your business practices, you haven’t fallen too far behind…yet. Most companies’ operating models make it look like it’s 1985; Lots of full time employment. Lots of lost time and revenue teaching old dogs new tricks, hoping they have the enthusiasm to keep up with the changing pace of business.

If this is the game you’re playing, you’re going to lose. Period!

30-year careers built with the same company are of a bygone era. So are pensions. So is everything you once knew to be true. But there is massive opportunity to adapt the Generation We attitude and gain a competitive edge.

The White Knight

Sourcing from this so-called on-demand talent pool is not as evasive as it sounds, or even was just a few years ago. Digital talent platforms are booming, so excuses about why you can’t find the right skilled worker consortium that works for you are over and won’t be tolerated. Plus the price of admission to these pools is so low when you compare them to lost productivity, expensive recruiters and bloated consultancy fees, how can a business afford to not take this gamble?

Take note: the best part of embracing this new talent sourcing model has nothing to do with money. Generation We gives us all more of what we are really seeking…TIME. Platforms like Communo, Catalant and others around the world are in the speed + quality game. They shorten the timeline exponentially from talent need to fulfillment. What used to take 30 days minimum to fill a position now takes 30 minutes or less. That’s game changing people.

Great News for Skilled Workers

I’ve aimed my frustrations toward mid-to-large-sized enterprise, but I don’t want that to overshadow an even more important message:

To all of you hardworking, skilled workers out there — this post should serve as the best news you’ve read all week. Your futures are actually what I’m most excited about!

Jobs aren’t disappearing — they just no longer come in the perfect 9-to-5 jail cells with cute snacks, office dog companions, and severance packages that you’re used to. The opportunity to make a great career and lifestyle out of what you’re doing is boundless. Larger enterprises need you. Don’t forget that! You are in the driver’s seat. Charge what you’re worth based on the value and expertise you bring, not what salary is assigned to a role. You are helping move the future of work forward and providing a pathway for businesses to stay relevant and profitable in the rapidly shifting marketplace.

Final Thoughts

Changing how you’ve operated your business is hard, but getting people to change is harder and takes more time. It comes down to what makes more sense? Substitute in the relevant talent when and where you need it as your business evolves, or slow your growth down by outdated talent models.

My parting words to the business owners reading this post — Wake up! If you continue to view talent the way you always have, you may just discover that one day soon you won’t even have that business at all.