I’m just back from #TruHelsinki, where I sat in a track that has really got me thinking.about recruiting technology, methodology, what we are trying to fix right now and how this fits with the way work is changing. My over riding thought was that the problems we are trying to fix now will actually be redundant by the time we get them sorted. The focus is on fixing old problems rather than trying to come with innovative solutions to what we think will be the new ones. If I look at the top talking points right now, I would list them as:

> Retention

> Skills shortage

> Candidate Experience

> Mobile

My thoughts are that within 18 months work will be more contingent than permanent, and project based. The same issues will be key, but the fixes will be quite different, and the fixes will need to be different to the solutions we are talking about for the problems we have. My feeling is that it is time for future proofing and re-examining our priorities with a much bigger emphasis on how recruitment process and technology will apply to the contingent market, where recruiters will need to be project managers sourcing and managing flexible labour.

The track that got me thinking this way was run by Janne Ruhoisto, who is the MD of technology business Intunex, and was based on crowd sourcing recruiting and creating skills based swarms. Wikipedia defines swarm behavior as:

Swarm behaviour, or swarming, is a collective behaviour exhibited by animals of similar size which aggregate together, perhaps milling about the same spot or perhaps moving en masse or migrating in some direction. As a term, swarming is applied particularly to insects, but can also be applied to any other animal that exhibits swarm behaviour. The term flocking is usually used to refer specifically to swarm behaviour in birds, herding to refer to swarm behaviour in quadrupeds, shoaling or schooling to refer to swarm behaviour in fish.Phytoplankton also gather in huge swarms called blooms, although these organisms are algae and are not-self propelled the way animals are. By extension, the term swarm is applied also to inanimate entities which exhibit parallel behaviours, as in a robot swarm, anearthquake swarm, or a swarm of stars.

From a more abstract point of view, swarm behaviour is the collective motion of a large number of self-propelled entities.[1] From the perspective of the mathematical modeller, it is an emergent behaviour arising from simple rules that are followed by individuals and does not involve any central coordination.

Swarm behaviour was first simulated on a computer in 1986 with the simulation program boids.[2] This program simulates simple agents(boids) that are allowed to move according to a set of basic rules. The model was originally designed to mimic the flocking behaviour of birds, but it can be applied also to schooling fish and other swarming entities.”

The concept that has real potential is building skills swarms who group together in  one place, on and off-line. Janne showed an interesting model of how swarms work in real life, the 1/9/90 model.

> 1% of the people are the doers who make things happen.

> 9% are contributors who will add content and comment

> 90% are observers who watch what is going on but don’t contribute.

Swarms are informal in structure, and operate as self managing communities. As the workforce switches to contingent, learning and development could become a core function, less formal learning and more peer to peer. When learning becomes informal with no certification, having a place for crowd sourced recommendations and referral will become increasingly important. What I really liked about the  Intunex platform, which is built for creating swarms in organisations is the recognition of skills and interests by peers and colleagues. This will make an ideal resource when putting together project teams, and for contingency staff to stay in touch, share out work and get help with the projects they are working on.

Increasingly, skills are going to be the new currency, and independent workers on contingency are going to have to hang out together for the support, development and advice that they currently enjoy in permanent work. expect swarms to be a big feature of the future contingent landscape.

Bill