CIO Leadership

Blended Not Shaken: How CIOs Make It Work With The New Way Of Doing Teams

Blended workforces are the new reality. Getting ahead of the wave requires meeting unique challenges with new priorities.

Joe Woodruff


June 6, 2024

Photo credit:
Drew Beamer

Do you ever wonder if we are going to make it?

I’m an optimistic guy, but sometimes the headlines concern me. Worse, sometimes talking with you gives me a picture of what is really happening behind the scenes, and I want to pull up the covers and wake up in a new world.

You face tough days. 

Most of the nightmares I hear relate to budgets and bodies, as in, you don’t have enough of either. It leads us to the big question:

How do you do more with less? 

But it is such a familiar question, we are tempted to shrug it off. So let’s ask it a different way:

How do you save the world when it is transitioning from what no longer works to what must work?

You awake today an essential worker. You have a stake in the game, but it really isn’t a game is it? Economic and political well-being teeters. You and your work, as meaningless as it can feel at times, is playing into a never seen before critical juncture. 

Let’s face it. The future of our children and grandchildren are on the line.

Radio and Television was a big deal when it came onto the scene. It altered the way we live. The internet was a big deal, a game-changer as well. Now, AI. You and I both know that the world we know now will be different these days forward because of AI.

You are called on to lead people - and our country - into thriving, victory, security and prosperity. 

To Be Special You Must Specialize

Last week, I introduced you to the concept of the blended workforce.

Workforces will be composed of In-house employees and a range of independent workers: highly skilled freelancers, temporary contract workers and outsourced contractors. 

The benefits are immense: you will lead a more cost-effective, highly skilled team, flexible and focused team of employees and non-employees.

Please do not dismiss this trend; please do not think that it will not require more of you and your peers to master this new dynamic. Please, think about it, see it, and lead the way. Of all the ways we can shape the world to come, this is a major one.

You will face some big challenges:

  • What will be the place of corporate values and culture?
  • Will dependence on outside talent atrophy the skills of current employees?
  • How do you manage a blended workforce without traditional forms of leverage?
  • How do you keep employees motivated when freelancers have more autonomy?

When the goal of a blended workforce is innovation, and not just augmentation, transforming how you work is critical.

Culture becomes even more important, not less. Future work is a calling, not just a job. Each person, employee or not, must not only see their role more clearly, but see themselves as part of a whole more dearly. 

Development is an integrated function within teams and not a top-down function to teams. Employee generalists and non-employee specialists benefit from interplay, both advancing in their career aspirations.

Teams will be drawn more to the challenge of a project than just the obligation of a project. Blending freelancers into your teams will of necessity drive more defined deliverables in tightly focused timelines. You will need to quantify tasks and streamline workflows.

What value a company brings and the cost involved in working there will catalyze or cripple employee and freelance motivation. Companies will be able to do more with less with a blended workforce; and a blended workforce will not tolerate traditional costs to them of working for a company. You will need to make the cost worth it while delivering on the value work with you brings.

These are all good things. And crucial. The world around you is changing, and it is not too much to emphasize that you, of all people, have the greatest opportunity to change the world. 

You can’t do it alone. You need a team. You just need a different team than you are used to.

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