As the Network Economy continues to evolve, people and organizations are adopting new approaches to getting work done: tapping into networked knowledge, breaking down silos, and collaborating across boundaries of time and space, to name just a few. As these strategies becomes increasingly viable and valuable, they raise some fundamental questions about the nature of employment itself.

Evolving the Talent Model

Currently, much of the conversation about how the Network Economy is transforming the culture of work focuses on anecdotes about individuals who are adapting the traditional model and, of course, the continuing debates over the merits of corporate outsourcing and the emerging online freelance marketplace.

But a larger, more substantial transformation of employment relationships is beginning to occur. Organizations are beginning to realize that knowledge is advancing and accumulating more rapidly in the external network than in the internal, exclusive R&D / IP silos. The ability to tap into talent and knowledge streams beyond organizational boundaries is becoming crucial for companies striving to remain relevant and competitive. And as a consequence, they are re-thinking their traditional HR and IP strategies to align with this new reality.

For individuals, the implications are equally profound; organizations, who provide the most common platform on which to build careers, are now re-defining their relationship with talent and knowledge, introducing uncertainty into what used to be a straightforward path to rewarding careers and long-term financial well-being. In addition, the dynamic of the network economy places demands on the pace of skill- and experience-acquisition that individuals will find difficult to fulfill in a single employment relationship.

Spiraling Virtuous Cycles

Uncertainties notwithstanding, these developments are creating real opportunities on both sides of the talent equation: companies need to stay competitive, and will continue to seek out and pay a premium for knowledge and skills that add value and help differentiate their products and services; individuals who want to contribute their energies where they will be most effective can bypass the increasingly uncertain corporate path and take direct control of their careers.

The expansion of the network economy has the potential to develop powerful virtuous cycles (repeating sequences of favorable events that reinforce themselves through a feedback loop) to advance the interests of both individuals and organizations.

The Mavenlink platform weaves together interrelated and mutually reinforcing professional, financial, and social cycles that benefit both clients and consultants. Mavenlink projects have three virtuous cycles encoded in their DNA, if you will:

The Financial Cycle

The financial cycle provides opportunities for both clients and consultants to continually increase ROI through more efficient projects and expand revenue opportunities through clearly demonstrated value.

For clients, project success is often measured initially by the degree to which the project deliverables meet expectations for time, cost, and quality; and in the larger analysis, by their associated ROI. Mavenlink’s built-in project management tools help streamline the process from proposal to delivery. Clients can propose, source, and run multiple projects efficiently from a single point of control. As successes accumulate and add value, and ROI compounds, funding for additional projects is easier to justify and secure. Project experience and artifacts also enable clients to gain additional value from re-use in planning and executing future projects.

For consultants, multiple project successes with clients result in enhanced revenue opportunities through stronger business relationships, greater confidence and credibility, and opportunities to add value through additional proposals. In addition, consultants can leverage success with one client when seeking additional business in the same vertical. Over time, consultants are able to deliver value more efficiently through increased knowledge and re-use, generating better ROI for themselves and for clients.

The Knowledge Cycle

The knowledge cycle describes the continual growth in clients’ and consultants’ abilities to tap into and contribute to knowledge streams. Every project requires knowledge and skills in a particular domain or set of domains; to the extent that every project is different, each is an opportunity for new knowledge. In addition, updating profiles and portfolios on Mavenlink ensures that connections are aware of project successes and new expertise.

With each successive project, consultants gain new knowledge and skills, or apply existing ones in a new way. New clients, partners, and collaborators all provide expanded opportunities to exchange knowledge. Even highly specialized skills, which may apply only to a single client, contribute to general knowledge that helps consultants refine their "craft" and develop better tools and processes.

Clients gain the explicit knowledge and expertise that they contract for, but also acquire experience and credibility that help them recognize and realize additional opportunities. Clients and consultants who work together on successive projects benefit from increased understanding of specific business goals and client needs, operational tools, organizational structures and personalities, and countless nuances that translate into smooth-running, successful projects.

The Reputation Cycle

The reputation cycle is the social-networking aspect of Mavenlink; the virtuous cycle associated with social networking is a major reason for its explosive growth. With every Mavenlink project, clients and consultants have the opportunity to provide mutual feedback, which becomes part of their profile information. Positive feedback from successful projects enhances your reputation and increases your visibility, which helps you expand your network and attract more collaborators.

A positive reputation helps you connect with high-quality projects and providers, and inspires confidence in both parties, streamlining the formation of new relationships. Additionally, your collaborators’ reputations reflect positively on your reputation, helping you to further expand your network, collaborate on more projects, and get more positive feedback.

A Platform for Realizing Potential

As we continue to build Mavenlink into the premier platform for successful projects and careers, we are motivated by the potential that is encoded in the Mavenlink DNA; the potential to help our community members succeed by continually advance their knowledge, financial security, and reputations.

In our next post… We’ll look at how requirements for a new ‘career platform’ based on the requirements of the network economy could span the widening gap between new employment dynamics and traditional employment structures.

We’d like to hear from you… How do you envision Mavenlink helping your long-term career strategy? Have Mavenlink projects increased your skills or knowledge, and has that translated to better compensation? What are the most important factors you consider when engaging a client or service provider? Is positive feedback a valuable indicator when it is mutual between two parties, or do the matching recommendations cancel each other out? What do you think is currently missing from career-oriented online reputations?

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