I read an article in “The Economic Times” which talks about increasing trend among Indian professionals to engage as free lancers. India is leading this trend. 1.2 million out of 3 million freelancers on www.freelance.com are from India. These free lancers may not be working for a corporate organization ; but they are loosely attached to one or more networks like The teamcontractor , elance or get-a-coder .
Freelance writers promote their work on technorati or twitter. Freelance photographers, web designers, painters and film-makers have numerous options on the internet to publish their work. These aggregators (like iTunes and You Tube) are giving opportunities to a very large number of smaller players than concentrating the demand in the hands of a few “Hits”. This phenomenon is elaborated in a book by Chris Anderson called “The Long Tail”.
If we observe these networks ; they are working like communities that help the individual members in many ways. It will be interesting to see how these communities compare , compete and co-exist with today’s corporations.
Why the communities are growing?
Here are some facts that make these communities inherently advantageous as compared to hierarchical corporations for individual professional free-lancers.
- Individuals add value to corporations – Communities add value to individuals
- Corporate leaders try to align individual goals with corporate goals. Individuals with common goals join to form communities
- Corporations become less effective and more bureaucratic as they grow because of centralized command and control. Communities become more effective as they grow because of decentralized, democratic and distributed decision-making.
- Corporates have document heavy processes to enforce best practice resulting in loss of context of principles behind the practice. Communities have light weight documentation of principles leaving the individuals to experiment, evolve and innovate to follow their own practice.
- Corporations have designated leaders-Community leadership evolves based on merit than designation.
- Corporations have top down approach to management , as against bottom up approach of communities.
- Corporate leaders take more – Community leaders give more.
- Corporations work with contractual relationships, whereas communities work with collaborative relationships.
In the last blog we saw how individuals are being empowered by technologies. Here we saw how communities or networks are empowering them. Age of the individual has arrived. Corporations that recognize this change and adapt themselves to the new realities will gain advantage over others. We are not saying that communities will replace corporations. But we foresee communities growing and corporations engaging more loosely with individuals as full time employees working from home, or part timers or freelance contractors. The metamorphosis we are talking about has already started.