How many of you work on businesses or side projects that have nothing to do with your job titles? Or how many of you reading this have side businesses or projects that have nothing to do with what you do day to day?
We are nearly two decades into the 21st century and finding meaning in your work (both in and out of the office) has become all but a way of life.
Workers today, especially creative workers, want to innovate and do new things. As a result, they find it much more fulfilling when they have multiple ‘walls’, meaning that they work for many different outfits at the same time.
Having multiple ‘walls’ can be as simple as having a few freelance projects on the side, or something more involved. A person might be a VP at one company during the week, sit on the board of another, and act as interim director at a third.
As this method of seeking fulfillment gains prevalence, the way that companies meet the expectations of their employees will change. In order to recruit and retain the best talent, they’ll need to think differently about how they structure their teams and provide meaning. The challenge for businesses is to find ways to leverage the passions of their employees in the workplace, even if their personal side projects aren’t directly work-related.
Clusters are a radical alternative to our traditional notion of teams. They are formed outside a company context, but are hired and paid by companies as a unit, as a permanent part of the company. They manage, govern and develop themselves; define their own working practices and tools; and share out remuneration.
Technology trends and tools like the cloud, and collaboration suites, are evolving to make this more and more workable.
Adopting this model has significant benefits for business because clusters are autonomous units, they are less burdened by the needs of many types of teams and individuals, and can create a work environment that is physically and technically removed from the bureaucratic decision-making of the larger organization.
Additionally, their size and focus enables clusters to foster higher levels of motivation and purpose among the people that make it up. Members genuinely know and care about each other and can support each other’s long-term development.
Regardless of the geography or task, clusters have the following characteristics:
Tailored Agenda: Each cluster has a specific reason for existing–with an agenda of objectives that matches that purpose.
Time-bound Existence: Clusters emerge when needs arise. They disband when their objectives have been completed.
Evolving Membership: Membership to a cluster is not fixed, but is fluid, with talent and perspectives changing to suit tasks as they change.
Self-organizing Responsibility: Clusters develop their own structure and operational rules: They alone are responsible for their operation and its results.
Adaptive Ethos: The culture and personality of the cluster aligns with its purpose: Some are explorative, some are directed.
Eventually, wherever the cluster model is adopted, businesses will need to work hard at managing and leading them well, just as they have always done for their emerging talent assets ensuring that the best are motivated to stay, the worst are inclined to go, and those in the middle are motivated to improve.