So here's something that's been floating around in my head for the past few days. What if we didn't work for a company or a business any more? What if the vast majority of people were independent knowledge workers (Centers of Excellence) and our knowledge was tapped into by any organization that needed our specific expertise at that time?
I know what you're thinking -- that's not anything new, that's a consultant. But I'm taking it a bit further than that. What if we were all our own business (consulting firms just jack up our hourly rates, anyway) and we marketed and managed ourselves in order to provide service to a wide spectrum of businesses and industries as they needed it. Within this complex business ecosystem, COE's would seamlessly travel and provide value to those who need it. Sometimes that could include a number of assignments at once; other times it could be a solo assignment that lasts indefinitely.
Sounds like a cluster, right. But I actually think that as things evolve, the cluster could get alot easier to navigate and manage and it might help people find roles that are incredibly fulfilling to them without being tied to that role for an extended period of time. Obviously this idea isn't for everyone, but this transition is already taking place to a certain extent as a result of the recession. More and more people are turning into consultants these days - the key is finding the exact organization that needs your knowledge.
The other great thing this enables is the ability for people to pick and choose assignments - some which are paying and some that could potentially be more philanthropic or more risky. It's kind of like an agency that takes on some business that is intended to bring in the revenue and some business that is more a labor of love or a labor of publicity. So a Gen Y'er could find herself doing work to make money for a certain period of time and then find herself working for her favorite cause for a period of time. That favorite cause could also give her the chance to broaden their skillset.
I'll be working more on this idea in the future. I feel there's something to it; but it's definitely pretty rough right now.
PS - if you're interested in reading more about knowledge workers go straight to the source - Drucker, Peter F.. Management Challenges of the 21st Century. New York: Harper Business, 1999