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Work Ground Strategy

In my previous posts I have mentioned Prosumption - an acronym of producer and consumers, where consumer take active part in the process of the produt’s production. Avi Shnider, a colleague of mine, an academic and an organizational advisor, does a great job explaining the method and the work strategy that drives it.

To Shnider, an organization based on what he calls “supp-clients” (suppliers who are also clients) is like a kid’s playground. When putting up a playground, the city’s authority’s job is basically done once all the equipment is in place. But in order for it to count as an actual playground, the authority needs to get kids to play in it and parents to bring their kids to play there. That’s where the “Work Ground Strategy” (on account of “Playground Strategy”) comes into effect.

According to Shnider, the “work ground” strategy favors organizational marketing over human resources. Instead of investing in recruiting the employees, training them and looking after their welfare, it is using marketing tools to attract free entrepreneurs to use the platform it created. While there are advantages, like lower costs, there are disadvantages as well. The most noticeable is the loss of control. The organization can’t tell his supp-clients what to do and when to do it - all they can do is market their platform and hope for the best. Because of that, the major risk in “work ground” strategy is having people leave your organization to follow the latest trend. By leaving they are taking away - not only your income - but also your means of production.

Despite the apparent disadvantages, if executed correctly the “work ground” strategy has major advantages as well, with the major ones being:

• Size - You can have a relatively small organization, but rely on the work of a much larger work pool, that under normal circumstances would have cost a fortune to maintain, while keeping of the benefits of a small organization.
• Keeping Current - With a vast number of subordinates (even if not directly) that are basically available 24/7 as the main source of information, there is little chance you’ll be left behind.
• Product Variety - Just look at eBay, a site the employs a relatively small amount of workers but has one of the largest product varieties in the world.
• Innovation & Creativity - Lots of people = lots of new ideas. people are free from the normal corporation restrictions and bring fresh thinking to the organization, since they are not bound by anything but their personal interests.
• Economic Advantages - The maintenance cost of supp-clients is low compared to the classic organization model. In order to achieve the same levels of innovations, variety, size or just being current, the classic organization will have to invest unthinkable amounts of cash and hire armies upon armies of employees.

In “work ground” strategy, like many other aspects in life, the path is often wiser than the person walking in it; sometimes the supp-clients can take you to places you didn’t even dream of. The path may be risky, but a pot of gold is small change compared to what is waiting at the end.

Based on an article by: Shnider, A. Raz, A. & Moore, D. (Under Review) Work Ground: Culture, Space and Organizing in an Israeli Moshav.

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