employment to assignment … are the sands shifting?

i had the pleasure of catching up with ed evarts, from evarts coaching.  ed posited that the workplace landscape is shifting from employment-based work affiliation and growth to assignment-based affiliation.  he suggested that the notion of ‘letting the work speak for itself’ is passe and that professional growth is a function of the network you have and how you are able to generate network diversity through a mix of different engagements that bring you visibility and attention.

this semester, prof. brian uzzi  is teaching a class on leadership & organizations where he illustrates through powerful imagery and narratives, the transformative potential of a good network.  prof. uzzi who is the richard l. thomas distinguished chair in leadership, continues to convince the cohort of 72 that the network you build and help build for others is the key to the ‘new science of leadership’.  in an era of rapid knowledge generation and change, one cannot possibly know everything about everything that you need to know.  here’s where the power of the network comes in, where successful executives and entrepreneurs turn out to be those that know how to leverage their network without being blatently transactional.

so if we came back to the question of employment vis-a-vis assignments.  do you see the world moving away from tenured employment and more towards assignments?  the latter holds the promise of enabling organizations to reach into their networks and pull together the right people, for the right job at the right time … instead of being limited to whomever happened to be at the rights seats at the right time.  so, how are organizations building their networks?  what have you seen work?  or, not work?

wouldn’t it seem reasonable to expect that organizations would more actively cultivate their own networks amongst professionals so that they are able to tap into an optimal mix of resources?  what do you think?

i believe that employment will continue to be a strong economic activity, albeit with its nature shifting from title-based and job-description-based human resource management to a role-based one … where an individual would stand to be deployed in the manner most optimal to the organization.  along the way, we would each play many different roles… wearing many different hats… adding value along the way!


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