Are you one of those people who stick around through the end of the movie to watch the credits roll? You probably are now, thanks to Marvel and all the other superhero movies baiting us with a post-credits teaser to the next big film.

But if you still don’t stick it out to the bitter end, do it the next time you’re in the theatre or streaming a movie online. There’s a business question in that list of names running across the screen.

Movies aren’t made by a team of 10 or 15 really talented people with broad responsibilities.

They are made by hundreds of people, all completing specific tasks with clearly defined outcomes.

It’s within that particular list of names where we get our question.

If Hollywood has long embraced this idea of breaking work down into specific tasks and outcomes, shouldn’t the business world embrace this too?

And, what would it do to both our productivity and the quality of the products and services we produce?

It’s time to redefine the job description

Today, business is stuck in old-world definitions of what a job is. Usually, that’s wrapped up in a job description that requires a full sheet of paper, which actually says very little.

These job descriptions talk in broad terms about what’s expected of whoever holds the position, rarely bothering to go into specific tasks that person is expected to complete and the desired outcome.

It’s usually coded language about what the company, really it’s what human resources want. When it says this is a sales position, what we are really talking about is revenue creation. When it says the job is in marketing, it means lead generation to drive more sales opportunities and revenue.

Creating revenue. Generating leads. Those are specific outcomes, and particular tasks can and need to be completed if those are the results we are looking for. So why aren’t we hiring for those specific tasks instead of hiring another marketing manager?

Well, some of us are. A few trailblazing companies are starting to think like those Hollywood producers who orchestrate the making of a movie. They are getting rid of jobs to be filled and replacing them with tasks or preferred outcomes to be done or achieved.

They are already using digital platforms--sites like Upwork or PWC’s TalentExchange--to match workers with particular jobs to be done. They are already using crowdfunding and investor sites to connect innovators with capital and sites like Alibaba to connect consumers with suppliers.

A real shift requires new technologies

Suppose we are to embrace this Hollywood production model (and we should). In that case, we need a more robust platform than what’s currently available, one that relies more heavily on outcome-driven matching algorithms.

This new platform should handle a query like “I need a new business model that drives growth in an emerging market” and match that request with individuals who have complementary skill sets.

This new platform secures the talent I need to create my blockbuster.
Variety is a publication that covers Hollywood and the movie industry. Last year, the editors published a story on what they called below-the-line dream teams. These are the non-acting teams that directors work with to make movies.

Directors often have trusted partners to put their films together, but they also have newcomers to their crews who are expected to fit right in and complete their tasks. It’s up to the directors to make sure that these teams of newcomers and old-timers work well together.

Edgar Wright, director of movies like Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, and Baby Driver, says that the key to making this model of micro-tasks work is getting everyone working toward the same vision. Your job as a business leader is nothing more complicated than straightforward and open communication and trusting your individuals to do what you hired them to do.

“I think basically your job with the crew, and the actors becomes the same thing, which is: Make sure everyone is making the same movie,”

Wright told Variety.

“You just have to get everybody on the same page, and the thing that I do, which not all directors do, is I basically try to share everything with everybody. It’s not like everyone just has the script: Everybody’s got the [story] boards, everybody’s got the music. The only way to get through it is to have the right people for the job, and make them feel empowered within their department, and also share all the information with them.”

Shifting mindsets won’t be easy

Of course, this shift to a “tasks to be completed” model won’t come without some difficulty.

For larger companies, if unable to successfully scale down, they will suffer death by 10,000 cuts. This new model will make it very easy for loosely formed social startups to attack every part of these legacy businesses. They will be more nimble and versatile than the ageing staff at these older companies, and that ability will bring these businesses down slowly.

The biggest thing holding these companies back is going to be the leadership. Sure, some are using specialist talent agencies and AI to identify potential candidates, but they are still stuck in the “hire” mindset. These legacy leaders aren’t ready to see their businesses as a list of tasks.

That will change as more entrepreneurial leaders come into positions of power (or the smaller companies they are already leading disrupt their industries so much that the bigger companies are forced to change).

Because their experience is with companies where HR isn’t a separate function, these leaders are already used to working with fully outsourced teams and finding the best talent to complete specific tasks.

Once this shift happens, it will allow new business models to emerge that enable the maximisation of productivity and efficiencies.

  • Projects will quickly flourish, evolve, and resolve as specialists move frequently and stay with a company only as long as the project or business lasts.
  • We will likely see these specialists creating net new collectives of disparate groups of people or even companies that work together on specific projects.
  • Technology will encourage the creation of powerful, like-minded, cross-border social “bubbles,” allowing serial entrepreneurs to reach far beyond what could reasonably be expected of companies their size.
  • Future organisations will be stripped-down and nimble, supplemented by talent attracted by the next promising opportunity. Workers know that the most sought-after skills will mean the biggest reward package. Like-minded workers will gravitate towards each other, aided by technology, sparking bubbles of innovation.

Tasks to be completed. It’s such a simple idea. More than 100 years of movies have been made that way. Amazingly, the business world hasn’t already embraced it as well. It’s even more amazing how it could transform the business world if it did.


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