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You’re Organizing Your Business Wrong. Try This Instead.

Are traditional organizational roles outdated?
by Ben Hughes | May 11 2015

Faisal Hoque and Drake Baer say that in the innovation economy, ad-hoc “talent clusters” are more effective at promoting creativity in the workplace.


In a new book, Everything Connects, Faisal Hoque and Drake Baer show how a holistic approach to management can promote creativity and innovation in the workplace. They argue that the traditional rigid, role- and title-based workplace organizational system is outdated and inappropriate for today’s fast-paced work environment.

Promote workplace creativity with talent clusters

In an innovation economy, flexibility is paramount, and these rigid roles can often be more trouble than they’re worth. To break this cycle, make use of talent clusters, or teams especially put together for specific projects. Rather than comprising members from just one department, clusters gather employees from varied ranks and areas of expertise.

These ad-hoc teams have the added benefit of not limiting the creative contributions of each member in the same way traditional teams might. In traditional teams, every person assumes a certain role; and for as long as the team stays together, members stay in that role regardless of the project.

“The ways in which we work need new definitions, though what they are—and perhaps always have been—are roles.” — Faisal Hoque

But, since talent clusters break up after a project is complete, members aren’t tied to one role forever. A person can be a leader in one project and a workhorse in another, according to their skills and expertise in relation to each project. Each employee gets her own chance to shine in her particular field.

Different roles for different projects

In an advertising agency, for example, an employee with some medical experience would make a great expert in researching a PR strategy for a pharmaceutical company. But when it comes to creating an ad for a fashion company, that same person may better assume a managerial role, considering aspects like how to fund the project.

In companies with a need for flexibility, talent clusters are a more effective way of organizing people and exchanging ideas. Talent clusters also have the added benefit of promoting interdepartmental innovation, workplace creativity, and cooperation.

When employees are gathered according to department or in fixed teams, most of their contacts will be limited to these teams or departments. On the other hand, if an employee works with multiple people in a broad range of short-term clusters, she’ll build a network that breaks down departmental boundaries and enables fresh ideas to flow through the company.

So the next time you’re faced with an interdepartmental project, embrace that aspect of it and form a talent cluster of the people you think are best-suited for the job. You’ll find that these ad-hoc talent clusters will be better able to respond to new challenges, more ready to innovate, and more creative than more traditional organizational teams.

Faisal Hoque and Drake Baer provide a lot more insights about organizing employees to promote workplace creativity in their book, Everything Connects. You can also read the book’s key insights on Blinkist – it’ll only take 13 minutes!

Want to know more about roles in an organization and how they can make every aspect of your work even better? Our ebook will tell you everything you need to know—including how we did it at Blinkist.

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