In January 2013, GE Appliances put together a small cross-functional team, gave them a limited budget, and challenged them to create a refrigerator for its high-end Monogram range. Less than a year later, the team delivered their product, built twice as fast and at half the cost—and it is selling twice as well as previous models.
The US-based electronics giant attributes the team’s success to FastWorks, an approach that involves doing away with rigid processes and allowing employees to make rapid changes to their projects, even switching directions when necessary. GE supports its employees by providing access to smart data and continuous training that enables them to keep up with the evolving demands of the project.
GE is not alone in embedding lean start-up practices into its workforce, allowing it to change faster and make smarter decisions. To keep up with the breakneck pace of technological advances, leaders around the globe are building workforces that can flex just as rapidly—in other words, a Liquid Workforce.
Employees in this nimble workforce are organised in working groups, moving easily from project to project, training on the go by tapping resources both within and outside the company. Some 80 percent of employers in this year’s survey believe that such a workforce will be a key competitive advantage for companies in the digital age, where disruption is a way of life.