By Julian Birkinshaw, contributor
(ManagementInnovationeXchange) -- At its core, much of management simply comes down to making sure the right people are working on the right projects at the right time. Most companies default to a top-down system: people are put on projects according to availability, favoritism, or sometimes, pure luck.
That's reasonably efficient, but the result is that some lucky folks get all the exciting projects, some get stuck on a project-from-hell forever, and some never get a chance to prove themselves.
Some companies, such as Eden McCallum, the London-based strategy consultancy, have experimented with a virtual-company model in which they act as brokers between freelance project staff on one side and clients on the other. It's a clever approach, but it provides no guarantee of work for the freelancers; it is also hard to scale because it relies on the team in the middle making a high-quality match between freelancer and client.
Another option is often called the "internal market," sitting somewhere between the traditional and the virtual models. On paper, the internal market sounds attractive: it combines the efficiency of the top-down model with the fluidity and sensitivity to employee needs of the virtual model.
But in practice… Well, it turns out that there are very few examples of companies using an internal market system on a consistent basis. This is why the experiences of Swiss software company AdNovum are so fascinating. More
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