J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Short-Burst Work

Short-Burst Work

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This is a walk down memory lane.  It’s an idea I was circulating circa 2005 so the words will seem stale now.  Periodically I like to flip through my old ideas to see how I’ve used them, what impact they made, and what I learned in the process.

When I originally pitched the idea, there were two basic reactions – either “this will never fly” or “we have to make this happen.”  The funny thing was, when Amazon launched its Mechanical Turk, several months later, some of the original naysayers, came back to me and said, “Oh, I guess you were on to something.”

I wasn’t passionate about the idea, so I didn’t pursuit it.  I was also busy with other game changers.  However, I did share the idea with some key folks, and then I wrote it up in a simple way so that whoever might need to see it, could quickly understand the scenarios and the value.  However, the thinking behind this did end up shaping some interesting efforts.  It also helped me articulate a principle that kept showing up – Human Shepherds and the Law of Relevancy

As an aside, the big thing I learned from having clusters of ideas at a time … (I filed several patents that year, created a few key software prototypes that internal/external customers built offerings around, and helped shape some key product-line paths) … is that you can actually get ahead of the innovation eight-ball, if you know how to combine key principles and patterns with the trends and the maturity cycles of markets.  The patterns and principles help you see things that might not otherwise be obvious.  There are even tricks to getting ahead of the mainstream market.   Someday I’ll share the patterns and practices for innovation that I’ve learned from the school of hard knocks (part of our group acted like applied research so we have the battle scars of making innovation stick against real-world scenarios.)

Here is the original idea of “Short-Burst Work”, in raw form.  Note that one of the other things I learned since then is that choosing a sticky name for an idea, makes all the difference in the world – alliteration and fun, helps a ton!

Idea: Short Burst Work

Elevator Pitch
”Connect short-burst human power to the relevant short-burst work opportunities ...”

Summary
Here's an idea that could be a game changer ...
What if you could connect a world-wide market of job seekers to short-burst opportunities through "adverstising" in the corp space? (consumer works too, but let's play w/corp scenarios for now)
This is nearly the "long tail" of job opportunities issue.   Imagine all the short-burst work opportunities in your day job.   What's interesting is this model is happening on SecondLife, with real people and real exchange of money.
Imagine the world of pooled resources, available 24x7.  Imagine the world of editors, coders, great thinkers …. etc.  Imagine how many former dot-Com'ers that would love to lend short-burst help.  Imagine all the great professors of the world you can suddenly involve when you can virtualize your work items and collaborate with a simple platform.

Situation

  • Fine-grained work items (short-burst) can be tough to fill whether temp agency, Monster ...
  • Find-grained opportunities (mentor me for 1/2 hr Wed, build me code to do X ... etc.) are a challenge to find the short-burst service/provider (yet the help exists ... it's just displaced or tough to make the match or there's workflow hurdles)
  • Untapped  or displaced resource pools in the US
  • Untapped resource pools world-wide
  • Lots of challenges connecting a world-wide resource pool to short-burst, relevant work
  • 24/7 availability of a distributed world-wide resource pool, waiting to be leveraged

Opportunity

  • Connect services/providers to relevant short-burst work
  • Improve the ability for consumers to find relevant labor pools

Recommendation
From a mental model, think of it as a highly relevant "match" service for short-burst work opportunities and resource pools. 

  • Create a platform for a "Live Help/Services" model.
  • Create a pluggable "service" model for providers (pluggable experts/skills:  mentoring, professional counseling, health, psychology, education,  software engineers ... anything)
  • Simplify the ability for a service provider to plug in from anywhere in the world

Corporate Scenarios
Imagine live services to connect your short-burst work items to:

  • Build me a strawman presentation for X
  • Write me a doc on X that explains Y
  • Write me a piece of code to do Z
  • Show me how to build a solution for scenario N
  • I need advice on today's big task
  • Coach my on ....
  • Tech edit my specs ...
  • Help me create a demo to show ....
  • Advise me on ....

Home Scenarios

  • Write me a book report ...
  • Help me with my math homework
  • Help with my presentation ...
  • Mentor my niece ...

Why is this feasible? 
It's happening on SecondLife.  Folks around their world are selling their services (scripting, image consulting, music dj …. You name it)  It's happening because the barrier to entry is low:

To sell your services/skills:

  • You don't need to figure out how to exchange money; SecondLife figured out the exchange and abstracted (like PayPal on the net)
  • You don't need to go through a bunch of hoops to advertise your services.

To consume the services/skills:

  • You search/browse
  • Can't find what you need?  Then you bring in Live Help and a concierge helps you find it.

There's reasons why existing services like this haven't taken off.  Connecting the consumer/provider to the "long tail" of the short-burst opportunities is a relevancy algorithm issue and a platform hurdle (services platform with good consumption/provider models).
Your engine can help folks find the short-burst services they need.  And when the relevancy is beyond organic search, you broker a "concierge" type service (Live Concierge) to connect a consumer to a provider … or a provider to a consumer.  It's a game changer.
How to make it happen?

Imagine you the user wants to connect to "live" help.  Think (Google (relevancy) + Monster (labor pool) + Temp Agencies (labor pool and short-burst work) + (plug in your favorite Web 2.0 model)