Flash Teams — Recruiting for Pop Up Companies

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Flash Drive—Recruiting for Pop Up Companies

Pop up stores, mobs, and restaurants—they’re all momentarily here and gone. The current economy favors projects that can scale up fast, get the job done, and dissolve with a profit.  The same now applies for so-called “temporary organizations.”

A recent New York Times piece describes pop-up organizations as an incoming phenomena made possible by the gig economy and automation that helps build a business structure in a click.  The Times article focuses on an effort by Stanford professors Michael Bernstein and Melissa Valentine to basically crowd-source an entire company through a system they call Foundry.

While it may make sense that a next big move in organizational behavior is a mash up of algorithms, freelancers, and profit margins, the idea is significantly more elegant.

In a research paper discussing Foundry, systems scientists, including Valentine and Bernstein, describe their concept of a “flash team,” as “a framework for dynamically assembling and managing paid experts from the crowd.” An essential capability and requirement of flash teams, or temporary organizations, is flexibility.  According to the authors, a dynamic approach using crowd experts and managers is capable of completing defined projects, such as design, prototyping, or course development, in half the work time of a more traditional company team.

Embedded in the flash team idea are some important concepts:

  • The problem of rapid decomposition and creation of micro tasks: Overall, the researchers use the idea of turning a napkin sketch into a reasonable prototype within a 24-hour period. To accomplish that, sufficient subject matter expertise must be brought to bear to break down the concept and create the steps needed to engineer a real-world model.
  • Time to develop organizational structure: In order to grasp and run with the subject matter, flash teams must be rapidly sourced, hired, and placed.  Using “sequences of linked tasks,” the researchers suggest a mobile, interactive system can be used to grow teams capable of moving straight to task.
  • Flash teams: These teams operate as blocks or modules, which can be combined or added to create the bandwidth needed to carry out objectives. Because of the dynamic system, new workers can quickly be on-boarded.  This elasticity means sufficient expertise is available when the project moves to the design and production stages.
  • Management: Using their Foundry platform, researchers took advantage of the system “to create flash teams by directly authoring each task for forging a team that other users authored and then recruit from the oDesk online labor marketplace.”

The research identifies some obstacles to success including geography, communication, shifting team membership, and a poorly developed vision of the desired end-product during a fast run-time.

There is an undeniable advantage to exploring the concept of flash teams within or without an organization.  While recruiting highly skilled talent is a persistent problem in the traditional work force, recruiting for high-value talent for temporary, freelance work is sometimes easier.

In this research, qualified workers were crowdsourced and hired through the job board Upwork, saving time and costs.  Communication was handled through the messaging software, Slack. Contractors who scroll these sites are interested in shorter term commitments or are looking to build their portfolio.

While this concept may suit workers amenable to gig work, it is not an answer to talent seeking reliable employment or companies working to build a skilled, dedicated ongoing employee base.  The limitations on pay, benefits, and job security are real.

The Foundry work is a temporary spin on existing tech.  For in-house or outsourced recruiters, recruiting software automates the online handshake for crowdsourcing potential candidates looking for work.  When you have a need for recruiting speed—talk to us at Brightmove about solutions.

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