Disrupting from within: 3 ways to reinvent business through the workforce
Editor's note: the following is a guest article from Randy Mysliviec, managing director of the Resource Management Institute.
In their book, "Marketing Warfare," Al Ries and Jack Trout warn business leaders to disrupt their business models before someone does it for them. At the current blistering pace of innovations and new tech trends, businesses must effectively change what makes them successful today to reinvent themselves for the next big thing.
Unfortunately, many fail to realize that their best source of business transformation starts with employees.
For years, companies have fallen behind and ignored trends because they were reluctant to confront their base of investors, senior management and customers. What they fail to understand is that while digital disruptions are inevitable, we all have the freedom to affect change on our terms — starting with human capital.
The inability to affect long-term transformations often results in forced market layoffs. In this shortsighted process, companies miss the opportunity to look into the future to predict what they want to be and how they can develop employees to get there.
They overlook the value of a trained and motivated workforce to help propel them to a stated goal and fail to forecast resource demands (capacity and skills mix) accurately.
The key to a successful reinvention starts with the workforce. To be successful in any new business endeavor, you have to know how to reuse and repurpose talent. Having talent prepared for the future is how we plan for the future and empower talent to enable disruptions.
Here are three ways to manage resources to disrupt business from within:
1. Develop and transform internal talent
The days of employees starting and finishing their careers with one company are long gone. On average workers will change jobs 10 to 15 times in their careers. Many people spend less than five years with the same employer. This revolving door of hiring and retraining workers is expensive and inefficient.
Some companies inflict this pain on themselves as they hire and layoff employees to bounce from one quarter to the next with new product strategies and corporate missions.
Business leaders need to move out of this event mentality and build resource management strategies that think beyond simple supply and demand management. They need to think about retaining and engaging employees through a fluid training development cycle.
This means looking at your workforce and envisioning where you need to take it months out in advance of the next transition. For example, a lot of businesses missed the boat by not realizing the difference between managing resources for on-premises computing and cloud computing.
With this foresight, you can prepare and engage employees with new training and development that prevents them from turning off and tuning out. You can also retain and empower a younger workforce by providing a clear path to advancement and an active role in your next major initiative.
2. Make way for the Uber workforce
In some cases, it makes sense to leverage a transitional workforce. With technology that enables remote employees and a growing independent freelance skills base, employers are finding themselves working more with what you might describe as the Uber generation of freelance employees.
Freelance employees provide employers not just the option of having someone there when they need them. These employees are becoming trained and hired on demand for specialized specific skills such as IT compliance, disaster recovery or cloud migrations.
Having worked with more employers in a shorter period, they have the potential to bring in the latest best practices with firsthand experience.
But not all freelance employees are young workers seeking a flexible work environment. Many of these workers are older, possibly retired professionals trained and skilled in areas young employees have no interest in pursuing.
Given these advantages, the Uber model should pick up steam over the next five to 10 years in IT. The challenge will be how to plan and forecast demand for these workers. Having freelance employees and budgets ready when a product comes up should be something resource managers plan for months in advance.
3. Recognize that speed kills
Over the years the industry has witnessed several companies that try to reinvent themselves in timeframes that are for the most part unrealistic. For example, enterprise hardware companies will suddenly want to be service companies. Or device makers want to become a source of online entertainment in a matter of a couple of quarters.
Technology transitions take time. Artificial intelligence and big data, for example, have taken years to go mainstream. In the process, they lose and gain momentum at various stages. It's important to remember that you shouldn't turn your workforce on a dime to support something that will take years to play out.
Proper resource management requires you to look at your workforce and think about where you want to be three years from now, identify the gaps and build out a plan that keeps employees in place and engaged to drive that transition.
By planning and reusing and repurposing existing resources, you'll spend less money and time on hiring and training and more time on developing and engaging employees who share your vision for success.