As technologies and business models continue their rapid evolution, companies are experiencing a step change in the workforce skills they need to thrive and grow. In the latest McKinsey Global Survey on future workforce needs, nearly nine in ten executives and managers say their organizations either face skill gaps already or expect gaps to develop within the next five years. Respondents see a need for their organizations to address potential skill gaps in a wide range of business areas like data analytics, IT management, executive management, and several others. (McKinsey & Company Survey, 2020)
The big skill
In today’s highly competitive business environment, continuous innovation and agility are strategic imperatives. Current market conditions make it unrealistic to accept the business status quo, and chances are whatever organizations did to become successful today won’t fuel their success tomorrow.
So, how can organizations prepare for a future that is difficult to define?
To enable agility and maintain competitiveness, organizations must shift from understanding the unit of work in terms of fixed, static jobs to reimaging it in terms of a dynamic landscape of skills that can be agilely deployed to work as it continuously evolves. This new organizational form, what is called a “skills-based organization” (or SBO), places skills and human capabilities at the heart of talent strategies, creating a new operating model for work and the workforce.
The beginning of something new
What happens when we flip traditional talent strategy orthodoxies from what we thought was important to what we now know is irrefutable?
Imagine a world in which, instead of assigning workers to projects based on reporting lines or jobs, they are matched to projects based on their interests and skills. A world in which people no longer rely on job postings or word of mouth to find their next opportunity, but instead are served up customized opportunities based on their unique portfolio of skills. A world where, in the flow of business, leaders have real-time insight into how their current workforce’s capabilities enable both work processes and business outcomes. In this new world of work, workers are valued and rewarded for their skills and how they apply them to create organizational value rather than for their title, level, or educational degree. SBOs architect a human-centric future by understanding what the workforce brings to the table today and proactively equipping them for success tomorrow. (Deloitte, 2021. The skills-based organization)
Dreams, dreams, dreams… They cost nothing. They are free!
We know transformation is difficult for large established companies, especially in a conservative sector like healthcare. And it’s not something bad as it gives stability and scalability, but does it give sustainability? We don’t know. What we know is that open innovation – collaboration with outside entities such as startups, nongovernmental organizations, academia, state authorities, funds – is a powerful tool for exploring both new business models and technological innovation. (NRETIA Health, 2022. Ecosystem-as-a-service)
Stop talking, start doing!
Skills-based organizations can more easily morph into becoming workforce ecosystems that seamlessly access skills inside or outside of the organization, or export skills to customer and partner bases to gain an ecosystem advantage. Instead of organizations consisting of employees in jobs, work may increasingly also be organized beyond the job, with work and workers deconstructed into their component parts (tasks or projects; skills and capabilities) and rapidly matched to one another.
Even the very essence of the organization – its strategy – will be transformed, with skills creating new strategic directions or ambitions to create value for people as human beings, a key component of the growing movement toward stakeholder capitalism.
A greater focus on skills in organizational practices can unleash greater employability for all; enable more efficient labor markets; and provide greater opportunity, fairness, and equity as people are defined more based on their skills than on pedigree or subjective judgements of others. HR and business leaders now have a golden opportunity to reinvent themselves, dynamically orchestrating skills and work to create value for all. (Deloitte, 2021. Skills: The new workforce operating system)
Business strategies are developed following the ecosystem approach with a high level of external facilitation. This approach gives new connections, insights, and problems’ solutions. It’s not just consultancy but also effective execution. People, engaged in the process from the organization’s side, can step in and out according to their short-term and long-term priorities and goals. Organizations are able more easily to access skills inside or outside of them, or even to export skills if needed in order to improve business performance and customers’ experience. “Ecosystem-as-a-service” gives additional flexibility, deeper business insights and bigger system impact of the organizations. (NRETIA Health, 2022. Ecosystem-as-a-service)