With Bruce Morton, Allegis Global Solutions
00:00:00 - Introductions - redesigning the way work works
00:09:20 - The exponential growth of outcome-based work
00:16:00 - How MSPs are adapting to services provision
00:24:30 - Global influences
00:30:00 - Talentsumers in an outcome-based workplace
00:35:30 - Work design architects
00:42:40 - Attracting outcome-based talent
00:50:50 - Trends and adapting to the pace of change
Jonny Dunning [00:00]: Okay, we're rolling. Excellent. Well, welcome Bruce Morton, thank you very much for joining me. How are you?
Bruce Morton [00:07]: I'm great. Thanks, Gary. Good to be here.
Jonny Dunning [00:09]: Excellent stuff. Okay. So I'm really looking forward to looking at some of the concepts that you discuss in your book, redesigning the way work works, and specifically addressing some of these things through the lens of how it applies to outcome-based work. And so I'm really looking forward to that before we get into it, what would be really great is if you could just give a quick introduction on what you do now? The kind of path you took there, to get there. I know you've got a huge wealth of experience in the sector. But also importantly, more importantly, why you do what you do?
Bruce Morton [00:43]: Right. Okay. It's good start. Yeah, so well, it's my 41st year in the industry. So I started in 1979. And like, everybody, certainly, then I fell into it. You don't, you know, none of the careers officers, was always saying, getting through recruitment with my lab, even sort of it was. But I interesting....so when I was 12 years old, I was already working part-time with the local butchers. Got into that school at 16, did an apprenticeship as a butcher, you know, the local family butcher, I loved it. And I got to 21 and I broke my back.
Jonny Dunning [01:24]: Wow.
Bruce Morton 01:25
And that meant, I couldn't, you know, no longer lift sides of beef. So I thought, okay, I've got to change my direction here. And I thought, okay, I'll better go and find myself a job. So I went to a number of employment agencies, [1:39 inaudible] back in the day. But it was really interesting. So as soon as I said, so [1:44 inaudible] what are you doing now? As soon as I said, I'm a butcher, I must have been there with the [1:47 inaudible] five people in the straw [1:49 inaudible]. Yeah, thanks. Don't call us, we'll call you. And after having done that, like half a dozen times, I thought, perhaps I should do that. So I then decided to re-approach these organizations, and say, hey, I'm going to come and work for you. And my third conversation I had a guy's like, yeah, okay, why not? The following Monday, I started, walked in the room, he gave me three Yellow Pages. He said I want you join the driving division, call these companies, these transport companies, see if they need any drivers. And then we'll give you a database, phone some drivers up, that was really interesting, 41 years ago. And roughly ever since, he's been very kind to me, allowed me to literally live and work all over the world. And so right now, I am head of strategy for Allegis Global Solutions, which means different things on different days. But in a nutshell, it means that I spent half of my time working with our clients to help them see around the corner, look into the future. And then the other half the time actually making sure that we're building the right solutions to actually deliver on that promise. You can tell by my accent, I'm originally from the UK, spent a number of years in Asia, but I've been in Connecticut now just outside of New York for the last 10 years.
Jonny Dunning [03:08]: That’s such an interesting story. And I think you know what you were talking about there with that major change when you broke your back. Yeah, that must have just changed everything. And I think the resilience and the resourcefulness that you have to demonstrate, and those types of situations where just everything changes, in some ways that's very applicable to what the recruitment industry should really be all about, in the sense that it's about solving problems of how do I apply my skills? How do I earn a living? How, what's my path in life? So in some ways, that must have been a very powerful lesson for kind of what you've gone on to do.
Bruce Morton [03:49]: Yeah, and, you know, hey, I'm incredibly fortunate that one I was able to walk again, I was paralyzed from the waist down. And I live a perfectly normal life, people would never know what happened. So I'm incredibly grateful for that. But it does give you a different view on life, I tend to be an optimist. Because, you know, I'm just glad to get up every morning and get out of bed. So I think it, it helps change your personality. And I think one thing that you need in our industry is resilience and a very sunny outlook. It's not all, you know, flowers and roses every day, you know, you have to, you have to tread the rough with the smooth. And I think that having, you know, spent the first I guess, half of my career in this industry, predominantly in sales roles. You get to learn that celebrating success very, very well. And moving on from less successful things pretty quickly. See, I think it's about resilience.
Jonny Dunning [04:52]: Yeah. And it's something that, you know, everybody's having to look at the moment with the whole COVID situation. In terms of people's careers being derailed, their companies being derailed. Things just changing completely outside their control, so I think, yeah, that's a really interesting point. And just in terms of your general sort of enthusiasm for this industry and the whole, you know, everything to do with work, and how do you kind of maintain those levels of enthusiasm?
Bruce Morton [05:25]; Yeah, I think that, again, I think we're all of us sort of in the industry, I think we're fortunate that the industry does change incredibly quickly. Now, fundamentally, it's about putting people to work that hasn't changed.
Jonny Dunning [05:37]:
Bruce Morton [05:38]: But the way you do that, and the way you think about work itself, which is really what the inspiration was, for me to write the book, that has changed so dramatically in the last few years. And hey, I didn't know when I wrote the book in 2019, what was going to happen in 2020. But it's been really fascinating to see some of those things, those changes, that I thought were going to take five years or more to come to reality. It sort of happened in 2020. You know, we're living in what I think historians will call in the future, one of the biggest social experiments the world has ever seen. Predominantly around the work, the way that people get work done differently. You know, like, there's the obvious things like did we all realize we could work from home, that was always a, you know, a well-discussed debate. And people used to like, oh on Friday, I'll work from home. And people used to use the inverted bracket compass, now and said work from home, because people didn't really believe people weren't necessarily. And I think what one thing, many things have improved, but one thing is, people, people want to work and they want to do their very best work, it doesn't matter if they're inside of home or outside in an office. So I think the level of trust has been phenomenal the way that's grown. And coming to your point about the outcome as a service, you know, and organization looking more about outcome, and it's sort of the only way you can manage people when they're not outside across the office.
Jonny Dunning [07:08]: Yeah.
Bruce Morton [07:09]: People are [7:10 inaudible/cross talking] anymore.
Jonny Dunning [07:11]: Yeah, I agree. I think...I totally agree and that's this is what interests me is, the whole thing is so fascinating that the changes, you know, 60 years ago, it was job for life. You know, it wasn't that long ago that the concept of the gig economy was very radical. People saw it as quite radical and remote working was, you know, viewed in a similar way. And the catalyst of COVID is just completely accelerated so many things and change so many things, I was chatting to a friend of mine who's a pilot. And I was astonished when he was talking about the percentage of the airline that he flies for profit that is made from just basically flights between effectively London and New York, business flights from London and New York. It's a large percentage of the overall business revenue, and particularly the profitability. And that sort of stuff is probably going to change, quite possibly going to change forever. Just when you look at things like travel, but from a work perspective, that's that has really massively changed. And, and I'm sure yeah, as you said, one of the things I'd like to kind of round up with is looking at all the things we talked about and trying to work out how you might update your book, if you were going to rewrite it right now, or you never know, you might need to update it.
Bruce Morton [08:27]: Yeah.
Jonny Dunning [08:28]: But going back to what you said about trust, I think that's a really interesting point because that's one of the factors that people have always struggled with, with the gig economy. So if you look at the gig economy, and how that relates to enterprise organizations, trying to make use of gig type transactions, trust, a massive issue, trust an issue for smaller companies as well. But when you look at outcome-based scenario, you know, it really is you get what you pay...you're getting something that you've paid for. And that's a totally different type of transaction, so I think it's very interesting. But it's fundamentally a different attitude to work that my opinion starts right at the beginning of the process of how you define the work. And that comes down to some of the things you talk about in your book around work design, etc. Before we come on to that in a bit more detail, just if you look at the growth and the prevalence of outcome-based work delivery that you're seeing within Allegis Global Solutions. What are you seeing in terms of the growth of services based outsourced services, statement of work, etc?
Bruce Morton [09:32]: Yeah, it's been incredible. I think a few things. Firstly, the deals that we had in progress in pipeline 2020 when the whole COVID hit, we thought that all of those will be pushed off and delay every single one of them. The call was, how quickly can you do this? So because those CPOs or procurement officers, or category management for labor, there will be asked by their boss, how are we getting work done? Who are these people, are they safe, do you know who they are? What contract we have, all of a sudden, it became a boardroom item. So rather than the procurement had to begin with trying to convince their colleagues that, hey, getting our arms around the services spend is a good thing. It became a necessity. So it's expedited growth of that. And if you look at any stats from staffing industry analysts or analysts, any of those guys and gals will tell you that, you know, compared to staff or contingent workforce, you know, services is on an exponential growth pattern right now.
And one of the reasons for that is more and more organizations getting the ability, and they're getting better at wrapping up piece of work, putting the price label on, and sending them out. But it is a skill set, you know, you know, more than ever, you're with the organization's, it should be your best work, you know, I guess one of the massive values of the platform is that it allows companies to do that. Because most of these managers, it wasn't a skill set that they had until recently. It wasn't one they needed. If you look back in time when, you know, everybody wanted to study management, and all these management books came out millions of them. And then probably what, 20, 25 years ago, somebody said, it's not about management, it's about leadership. Oh, okay, let's throw those books out. Let's buy some books on leadership; it's not about managed from the back lead from the front. With all of that, the commonality was about lead managing and leading people.
Today, we're in a world where it's about leading the work, as my very good friend John Boudreau, his book Lead the Work will tell you, it's, so that's a new skill set for a manager. So now you're a business head, it isn't just about what type of people do I need to hire? What skill sets is? What is the best way of getting this work done? Do I bundle it up, put it out there? What should I keep in hands? What do I...What piece of work do I care who does it? Compared to a piece of work, I don't care who does it. If you want a new logo for a new project, and you want 25 bucks, you'll get that done. There could be a 14-year-old lad in Vietnam, it doesn't matter. Right? The other piece of work, you need to know who's getting that work done and how it's getting done. So that's given us that whole new dimension. But all of it added up means that organizations are outsourcing pieces of work more and more than ever before. Now, if you're a historian of our industry like I am, I guess, after all these years is when we got back to when the happening in IT. And organizations started outsourcing the upkeep and the servicing of their laptops, right, and their PCs and the laptops. Our industry asked in the staffing industry, missed a trick at the time. Going back, it's always like, you know, it's easy than [12:52 inaudible] and hindsight, but if we're seeing that coming, wait hang a minute, we have all the people that can do that work.
Jonny Dunning [12:58]: Yeah.
Bruce Morton [12:59]; Why don't we provide that service, but the staffing industry didn't because the staffing industry put itself in the box. So no, we attract and hire talent. We don't deliver outcomes. So that left the window open for all of these massive IT outsourcing organizations, and the Big Four and everybody else professional services to come down that space, BPO, and everything else. And where do all of those organizations go for the workers? The staffing companies, for the staffing industry, remained for a long, long time, you know, towards the bottom of that ladder, let's say to be polite. What's happening now to answer your question, finally, one of the trends we're seeing, certainly leeches is, you know, in our IT staffing firms, more than half the work we do now is based on services, as opposed to people.
Jonny Dunning [13:49]: Yeah.
Bruce Morton [13:50]: But we started seeing that at the top end, but the latest I guess, or the newest data we're seeing in trends are that's going all the end to light industrial. So, you know, at warehouse level, at distribution level, organizations, instead of saying, oh, I need 10 forklift drivers and five pickers and packers to start Monday. You say no, I want to pay you 50 cents to move that box from there to there. How you do it, that's your cup full, because I can then budget in my business far more accurately because I'm not taking the risk of how many people it takes to do a job. That's what you should be doing. That means more of that list, if you like or more of the gamble on and the understanding of how many people you need to get something done is now sitting in our industry, which currently is called staffing, moving into services. And I think that the majority of what we do will look like that over the next 10 years.
Jonny Dunning [14:48]: Yeah, it's absolutely fascinating and I think you know when you're talking about the focus on what needs to be done, that kind of comes back to the shifting balance between work and workers. And where do you start with that whole scenario? And, you know, the idea of it being a skill to be able to write a requirement, work out what you need to get done. I mean, traditionally, if I go back to my job board days, you know, companies and even recruitment companies to certain extent, I'm not very good at writing job specs. So writing a requirement is a easy different skill, but it's something that people are having to get better at. And ultimately, it's a very pragmatic way to do business. As you say, it's eminently scalable, if you can say, well, I know a box is going to cost me 50 cents to move from there to there. And therefore, you're just tying into all of your other costs. You can just get a far more accurate measure than saying, I'm going to hire someone on a time materials basis, and someone's going to manage them and stuff will get done, hopefully, when it gets done.
But I do think it's very much kind of going back to what you were saying about the beginning process as to how...what's the best way to get this done? What's the best way to resource this objective? That is one of the most important things as far as I'm concerned because it's very much horses for courses. You know, we say this in the right scenario, it's going to be a permanent employee, there's always going to be the use case for a contractor or a temp. And by the same token, you know, outsourcing a piece of work and getting it done on a deliverables basis. So you mentioned about how within Allegis things are changing in terms of how you're delivering services. What do you see within the market generally, around how MSPs are adapting to this world of services, procurement? Because in some ways, you could say services procurement is different to contingent workforce, for example, it's, you know, it's different to HR, and there's some separation in a lot of organizations, how do you see that playing out in the industry at the moment?
Bruce Morton [16:39]: Yeah, it's fascinating. And we were, I guess, smart or lucky, or both, but we were one of the MSPs, that were first out the gate to get into services. So we've, you know, we've got a bit of space between us and our competitors, because we were the first out of the gate 9,10 years ago. But when I first started, we were guilty as anybody else thinking that it's an extension of the MSP. Because you've got your relationship in procurement, you've got an established MSP, you've got your compliance and risk, and you're going to really robust process, and you're getting visibility of those workers to that organization. And then what we started seeing, it's the classiqueness squeezing the balloon, people saying, oh, god, this is really good. And now we've really shone the light on that contingent workforce, it's starting to shrink because now it's going somewhere else. And it was going into, you know, what's called SOW.
Time statement of work because managers, you know, I passionately believe managers don't try and hack the system, they just want to get work done, and they find the path that meets the distance. And if an organization puts in a 12-month tenure limit, and that project is taking two years, I'm not going to hire a contractor, only go to the market, because I can bundle it under the statement of work now, and then I can keep those individual for as long as I want. So this concept of tenure limit actually cause this behavior to grow statement of work. And the bizarre thing about that is the reason that tenure limits grew so rapidly, is because of co-employment.
Jonny Dunning [18:13]: Yeah.
Bruce Morton [18:14] Any lawyer works worth their salt will tell you tenure limits has nothing to do with co-employment. It's just that an organization got formed many, many years ago when people join the dots on the two. [18:26 inaudible] but that’s the exact conversation on this corner...
Jonny Dunning [18:28]: That’s probably the lowest common denominator when it comes to co-employment, isn't it? It's like, there's probably all sorts of other things that are going wrong there.
Bruce Morton [18:35]: Right.
Jonny Dunning [18:35]: And the worst-case scenario is that about the very basic level, some companies will go, that contract has been there for 10 years, and they're sitting at a desk using your work computer coming to the Christmas party. And, you know, managing a team of ten.
Bruce Morton [18:46]: When that started happening, we started seeing this growth. And that's now we would, you know, as a intelligent estimate, you can look at any organization, understand how much they're spending on contractors, and multiply that by a factor of five that's what's spending on services. You know, it's a general statement, but...
Jonny Dunning [19:06]: I've heard many times.
Bruce Morton [19:08]: Many times it's accurate, right. So that's how that industry started. So coming back to your question about how we've evolved and how we see that now. What we realized pretty quickly, all those years ago is that this isn't recruitment. This isn't staffing. This is procurement. And you have to have procurement expertise and procurement experts to learn the category of labor for professional services where we want to define it. And if there's a human involved, who loves that category. So we smartly, we went and hired a few of our clients, all heads of procurement, and bought them in, and they're still with us. And they're now leading that company, the strategy of it to an extent. So we now look far more like a procurement outsourcing, labor function, and then an MSP that saying, hey, we can manage that spend for you as well. I think the other interesting thing that's happening that we'll be debating for many, many more years is should it be supply funded or client funded?
Now, because the MSP when that was created, all those years ago, it was supply funded, more for less, we created this monster of supply funded. Right? So whenever any of us, me or any of our competitors, trying to get any cash to do anything, I'd have a procurement department going like no, I don't, I don't have money. You're procurement supply funded, right? So there's, that's a, it's a monster, we created it, we have to live with it, put it that way. I'm not saying it's a bad or good thing. It's just the way the industry is. So naturally, MSP providers that when they started getting into services, they say, oh, let's just take the same approach. It's different now, because some of these services contracts getting so many, many millions of dollars. You know, why would a big four company want to pay, you know, a percentage point of all that spent? Where's the value in it for them? So that's what the industry going through right now trying to decide in a way, should this be supply, should it be client funded? Is it a hybrid of both? Is the some of this should be that, you know, invoiced on activities, processing. No SOWs, versus spend. There's all of that. But the, across the, you know, the biggest dilemma that our industry has in MSP and services, is one of the major reasons organizations bring us in, is to have them, say costs.
Jonny Dunning [21:41]: Yeah.
Bruce Morton [21:42]: If our model, the way we get paid is predicated on how much you spend. But within there, they're trying to reduce that. It's just a real weird, weird dichotomy. So I don't know where that's going to end up, Johnny, I, you know, crystal ball time. But I do think that you know, the next few years, there will be a more of a standard way of how organizations think about this than there is now. Right now it's still being the direction is being persuaded by the MSP model. I don't think that'll be the fact in a few years.
Jonny Dunning [22:15]; Yeah, yeah, there's a lot of interesting points there. I think with picking up on that last one around, the way that it's funded, and the kind of spend models, it's, I mean, the markets still fairly embryonic, as far as we're concerned. It's got a lot of massive amount of growth to do, the existing problem is already huge, with people would spend that they need to get their arms around. And the growth in needing to address this problem, as you say, is increasing because of various factors. Yeah, and ultimately, what it's going to come down to really in the future, as far as we believe it's about being able to measure return on investment, what people are actually getting for their money and increasing the value that they're getting from their services.
I mean, some of the more future-looking stuff that we're doing with our RSPX algorithm, which is supplier performance management that is really about addressing that longer-term problem where you need to understand what am I spending? Who am I spending it with? What are the projects? Are the suppliers on time on budget? You know, the scope creeping. But ultimately, are they doing a good job? And what am I getting for our money? And that's the key question within services procurement, the most CPAs on the moment, are not in a position to be able to answer, which, you know, in some ways you look at it and think that's crazy, bearing in mind that it's, you know, some people estimated to be a trillion-plus spend globally per year.
Bruce Morton [23:37]: Yeah, I used to use the analogy guy. And, you know, if you have a temp Secretary come and sit in on section for a few days back in the day when they used to come and sit in the section, you know, you have that temp for a few days, then you get five feedback forms from the agency, how well they did? You spend millions of millions of dollars with a massive organization, and who's actually capturing that they did a good job on it. Nice. I mean, that's, it's the ultimate irony.
Jonny Dunning [24:07]: What do you think in terms of what's driving this growth in outcome-based services? And what do you feel is driving it from a global basis? I think there are a couple of things that I'd be interested to come on to briefly that I've really specifically driving it in the short term in the UK. But globally, obviously, COVID having an effect where, as I see it, everybody's just looking at their spend and going, you know, that 100 million we spent on consulting, what did we get for it? Was it well spent? You know, if you want to do any consulting, it's got to go through the CFO, anything, you know, so what do you think outside of the COVID situation? Are there other factors that you see driving this globally?
Bruce Morton [24:46]: Yeah, I think as organizations get more visibility, and some of that comes through, you know, the ERP system they have, all be it that I get all the information they need that actually started to get some analytics. And I think the old game used to be, oh, how much did you spend last year with consultants? Let's use that 50 million. Okay, you need to reduce that to 45 million this year because we're cutting back on spending, definition of madness. The question should be from that 50 million. What did that add to our business? Oh, actually the ROI was 80 million. Okay. I don't want you spending 50 million this year; I want you to spend only 60.
Jonny Dunning [25:23]: Yeah.
Bruce Morton [25:24]: But you can only have those conversations if you've got the data, exactly the point you're making. What do you think you bought? What did you actually buy that wasn't delivered? So I think that's one visibility, and data, help people understand this better than they saw looking at total cost of ownership and ROI. That's just a natural progression. The COVID impact on that is, organizations realize that they've got to be far more nimble and agile. But whatever the next thing is, you know, I know as we're recording this, we got a few days of training [25:54 inaudible] left. Hopefully, we're done. There's a swarm of locusts like capacitor in a minute saying that, but hopefully we don't. But, you know, what is the next thing? The supply chain has been completely disrupted. You know, here in the US, there's a whole US, China thing. So people talk about that a lot. What does the new supply chain look like? So the ultimate way to be nimble and agile is have a few or a few employees, and outsource more and more, it just is, whether that's bringing in contractors or pure outsourcing.
So that's the economic impact, if you like of organizations having to learn very, very lean, and looking at a, you know spreadsheet saying, what's the minimum we can be? What is the core of who we are, what are we known for? What's our IP? Everything outside of that is going to be automated. Firstly, if it can't, can it be accessed? Yes. So there's that approach going on. And I think that emotionally, on top of all of that, all of us have been through an awful year in 2020. And those folks that have to lay people off with as the business coming back, which it is, you know, it's been a while for businesses coming back, but people are going to rush and hire employees, it still hurts, it's still hurts, when they have to let their friends go a few months ago. So it'll be a natural, come and go, temp, for example, let's just start off that way, just in case something happens during that three or six month period. Or even better, can I get somebody else to do this? So, you know, a lot there. But, you know, As the old saying goes, it's sort of a perfect storm, all those things coming together.
Jonny Dunning [27:33]: Yeah, I think in the UK, it's, you know, potentially even more so, in this space, in the sense that you've got Brexit as you say, at the point of recording, we could still be heading for a no-deal Brexit. So whatever impact that will have is remains to be seen. But ultimately, this is happening on the first of January, always good to pick a bank holiday for these things. Your weekend but, you know, one of the effects of that is that's going to drive outsourcing because it's going to end the free movement of people across Europe into the UK. So instead of being able to hire someone from outside the UK, on a contract basis, you can hire them via an outsourced service provider who will employ them on a tier two visa, for example. So there's all these great talent but businesses in the UK want access to, and in my opinion, that is going to really drive the outsourcing picture.
But on top of that, we've also got the…you mentioned co-employment. In the UK, we have legislation called IR35, which is all around the same thing, which is basically disguised employment, are they self-employed or employed? Taxation of that UK government are really hot on it. And you know, and this is rolling out to the private sector in the UK in April. And that is going to drive the need for alternatives. It's not necessarily going to mean everyone says, well, we have to just do everything one set way. You know, not everyone's not going to go perm everyone not necessarily going to be contracting, not necessarily going to be everything via outsourcing. But companies need different strings to their bow, and I think it's going to force the rapid increase in maturity in the UK compared to the rest of the world. So the Brexit driver, plus the IR35 driver, I think will mean that the UK is very much at the forefront of having to deal with this.
But as you said, globally, we're seeing these impacts around you know, how supply chains are affected by economic factors, but also just adaptability. You know, companies need to be more and more adaptable, innovations happening faster, change happens faster. What's going to be the next thing after this if someone switches off the internet? A computer virus instead it could be due to Coronavirus, but yeah, I think that diversity of supply chain access to nimble suppliers, but it also ties into how people work. And it kind of ties into one of the things that your book talks about, which is how people are? Perhaps even more attached to their specific craft than they are to their employer in the sense that, you know, people want to work, people need to earn money. And they want to do something useful with their life and they want to do something that they're good at. And they want to do something that they enjoy, an ultimate kind of panacea, you'd have all of those things. And how do you see this playing out against that backdrop of the personal attitude of people, and for example, with things like the recognition of completing a task, versus being in a job and working on an hourly basis, for example?
Bruce Morton [30:29]: Yeah, and it's interesting because that desire, talent stream, as I call them, people consume what so human beings, now would have done for a number of years now, but they act as consumers at work. Back in the day, you know, my father was at work, he, was a different person, when you went in the office, you left your personality at the factory gate, let's say and then you went in, you know, you became a drone for eight hours, you came back, and hey, I'm back again. It's me. And you had, you know, I remember when I was doing the sales recruitment, back in the day, we had a Thomas international psychometric test, that would analyze who somebody is, what their personality is, and what their work mask is? Literally, that's how we measure people. Oh, yeah, you know, it's a bit of this, but it'd be really good in the workplace because it shows you different traits, that's all disappeared. And a lot of that was around the time of Gen Y, and everybody thought it was a Gen Y thing. It wasn't, it's just a natural maturation of how people think about work. And one of the biggest causes of it, is we had the concept of work-life integration because somebody invented the Smartphone, that, you know, allowed us to work on the way to work and on the way back from work, and then we just became our thing, right? As I always say to people, you try and get up and live and I go to the bathroom and not look at your phone, it's almost impossible. So because now that's just what we do, therefore, it means to be more likely to behave like the person we are, as opposed to being something else for that very, very defined time.
Jonny Dunning [31:59]: Right?
Bruce Morton [32:00]: So what's created is people's abilities to say, okay that's what I do. That's what I'm all about. That’s a big part of me. Right? So this is going to be more sincere, and therefore it's more about my craft than what it says about the door. Go back to my, you know, my father's generation, if somebody said to him, you know, what do you do for a living? He'd named the company first.
Jonny Dunning [32:24]: Yeah.
Bruce Morton [32:25]: And, he said, yeah what do you do for them, then you might finally get that out of him. Now, you ask them what they do. And they say, you know, I'm an app developer, IBM will enjoy my company like that, doesn't mean they're disloyal, it just means they're more loyal to the craft. And I think all the negativity around Gen Y and [32:40 inaudible], all these people aren't loyal. Yes, they are. It's just something different. That means as an organization, if they're your employees, you need to understand that, and what people are looking for many other things. But to hone in, on the your point, everybody wants to have a start, middle, and finish or something. So the struggle that some companies are having now that don't fully get this is they're not productizing, the work, got to productize the work so that it is an outcome. It might be daily, it might be weekly, it might be everything else. But somehow you need to build in, you've got to get...if it's a menial job, that's the same every day, then the robot should be doing it. Stop having your human beings doing jobs with robots. Stop it. But all the rest of it, you got to productize it. And that means breaking down silos. So finance, people don't destroy finance, right? They jump into a project for a few months, with some BD folks or OPs folks and product development folks. They create a piece of work and then move on to the next thing. So that's the biggest impact in my mind that we're seeing from a an individual's desire right now. And so we've got the company is wanting to get into an outcome as a surface over individuals as well. And those two things together are one of expediting the change.
Jonny Dunning [33:55]: Yeah, that's really interesting. It's almost in a way you could kind of say, it's almost kind of full circle back to when most people work for themselves, but they were skilled tradespeople or craftsman, for example.
Bruce Morton [34:08]: Like a tit for a tat. I remember as a kid going to my grandmother's...sitting at the kitchen table, she would be there making matchboxes she got paid per matchbox, she got paid by the hour, like she got paid on the outcome, as you said before that it was, you know, the way work was invented when, you know, where we would all go into the fields. And we're cutting corns for ourselves, and we said, hang on a minute, why don't you guys cut the corn, you guys do something else? And then we created the what's now called the org chart.
Jonny Dunning [34:35]: So if we starting with what needs to be done, rather than starting with, who do we need? And that's, I think that's a really interesting concept. And I think it's a very important thing when people are looking at outsourcing because I don't believe you can do is approach outsourcing and go, well, we've got, you know, 10 people doing that at the moment. Therefore we need to...it's the wrong approach, it’s just a question of what do you need to get done rather than who's doing it or who is going to do it? Because theoretically, it shouldn't matter. If you pricing up a piece of work and objective, and a company is going to get that done for you, and they're going to be measured on delivery of that and paid on delivery, then to a certain extent, you shouldn't really worry about who's doing it or how it gets, how it's actually being done.
Bruce Morton [35:19]: Yeah, and it's not being automated You know, doesn't matter whether it's a robot doing or an individual who is paying for the outcome.
Jonny Dunning [35:26]: And so one of the things you talked about in your book, which I love this concept of work design a architect.
Bruce Morton [35:32]: Yeah.
Jonny Dunning [35:33]: And this is, I think, is something that's extremely strategic. Because as I said getting work delivered to outcomes, is an incredibly pragmatic way of doing things, there's less margin for error, I would argue, in that method of getting a piece of work done than employing people on a time and materials basis, because it's forcing you to have clear objectives, it's forcing you to have clear timelines. And I think we've all seen it, if anyone's worked in a large organization has seen teams and management structures that are inefficient, and there's a lack of direction and there's lack of clear objectives. And so, tell me a little bit more about your kind of concept around this work design architect type role.
Bruce Morton [36:16]: Yeah, and I think, the need for it, let me start there. But the role itself is where this has got to, and I think our industry, the staffing industry, have some blame in a way in this the way it's got this. Many, many years ago, you have a one page job descriptiojn and a one-page person description. And that will create your rec' and you go out to market with it, and over the time period, because of you know, automation and computers. And because of the speed of contingent the way you need to build contingent jobs, all the companies are sending you predominantly, it's just a description of the person. What am I going to do well, they are a Java developer, what do you think they are going to do? Okay, fine. So we as an industry sort of accepted that all we needed to do, we just needed a description, what skills you need, how much experience and we'll go with your map on that? So the concept of that work actually suddenly disappeared.
Jonny Dunning [37:10]: Yeah.
Bruce Morton [37:11]: Now what we're seeing is a complete reversal of that, remind us what we need, at least, is to say, no, stop telling me about the person you need. That's the job of the work design architect. You keep sending me these wrecks. What's going on? Why do you need five Adobe people all of a sudden? What's the project trying to get done? Because there might be a smarter way of getting it done.
Jonny Dunning [37:30]: Yeah
Bruce Morton [37:31]: By the way, we might have some people started organization and have those skills, who you might want to think about, maybe somebody just 80%, that might want to ask them, what you're trying to say. So the more you can talk about the work, the better. So the scale of a work is on architect in my mind, number one is the ability to deconstruct the work. Number two, truly understanding the business objectives of that organization, so everything you're doing is tying to that is it making an impact. And the third one is storytelling through data. Because the way that you're going to change people's behaviors, the way you're going to change their mindset has to be through empirical evidence of there's a better way of doing that. And that's the journey that we're on as leaders, you know, we want to be the organization sounds a bit grandiose, the place to go if you want to understand the best way to get work done. Because we're so global, and we've got, you know, massive staffing companies as well as MSP and RPO.
And all that data we sort of know, if you've got a piece of work to do, the way you should put it in the world, and how much you should cost and how long it will take? So that's the journey that we're on, wrong way to go. But the data is there. It's about having the ability and I know you and I've talked before about the product, we've created a good docusit which takes on the unstructured data and structures it, to take the black art out of statements of work, so you can truly understand what you're getting. What does it take to get that work done. So you know the point you're making earlier, which I agree with, as an organization, if you're paying somebody an outcome, you sort of don't need to see the sausage machine. You just need to see the sausage, for our industry to be our true value; I think we need to see...What ingredients are going into that because now you can start advising organizations? And then the other piece, the last piece now if the work is an architect, which is I guess sort of been experienced with COVID is the concept of borderless talent or talent anyway.
Jonny Dunning [39:30]: Right.
Bruce Morton [39:31]: That individual needs to have that understanding of where to put it. You know, should I be putting this in one is ours or should I put it in Chile. Should I put it in Singapore or Hong Kong, and why should I put it there? What the rationale behind that? And that is always a quality speed and cost, you know scenario, right? I quickly want to get this done, what's the most important thing, and so on. So I think that you know, it's prediction I made in my book a year or so ago, but I think every organization of size will have an army of work design assets in the future. They might call them that. HR, HR business partners, it might be procurement or category managers, it might be, you know, work in a complete workforce, business partners. But we're seeing some early days of it, there's a handful of our clients that are working that way, now. We're starting to see functions that report directly into CEO...
Jonny Dunning [40:30]: Yeah.
Bruce Morton [40:31]: HR or procurement. It's a separate thing. And I think we'll see more and more of that as well.
Jonny Dunning [40:36]; Yeah, I mean, it's almost something you can see feeding directly into the CFO say, you know, what, what's our overall, you know, this is our budget for getting stuff done. What do we need to get done? What's the most effective way to do it? I think, effectively COVID may well have brought your predictions forward by about five-plus years.
Bruce Morton [40:54]: And the CFO things really interested me because I always say that to procurement, when I get very friendly with them, and I can be bolshie, but I also know, if I was your CFO and said, all your real estate around the world, I want to take that and report into the CEO next week on all of our real estate. Is it leased, mortgage, do we own it? What's the cost per square foot? What's utilization etc, etc? Within a week they pull that together and give you a report. You know. Yeah, yeah. Okay, fine. Let's have that same conversation with a head of procurement or head of HR and talk about people. [41:32 cross talking] How are you getting work done today, ah, yeah. So that, you know, you think the concept of talent architecture, painting a picture of the world and show me who these people are, what's the contract we have with them? What's the tenure? What's the true skill set? Be impossible to do. We still have organizations that go out on LinkedIn to see what works for them; see what skill sets they’ve got.
Jonny Dunning [41:55]: Yeah, I mean, you know, you talked about data earlier. And I think I totally agree with you. And I couldn't agree more, and I think if you look at services procurement, specifically, I would say the dirt of data is more evident in services procurement than it is in, you know, certainly any other area of the workforce currently. And once that data starts to expand, you know, just the value of it is going to be immense. But on the other side of it, you've got companies getting work done in different ways, and what the actual, the concept of what a company or a brand or an organization is, fundamentally will change as part of that. So how do you think that changes, what makes a company attractive to work for? But also that kind of taking a step back from that, if I'm working for a company, that's outsourcing into another company, that changes the dynamic again, and it comes back to this tradecraft and specific skills, who you are, what value you're adding, but for a company to be attractive to get work done effectively. What do you think the markers will be? And are they...have they changed?
Bruce Morton [43:07]: Yeah. Yeah. I think in a few years, or just a short few years, organizations that haven't automated the menial tasks will struggle to attract talent. I remember a very good friend of mine, Anita work for me years and years ago as a recruiter. And in the interview, she said to me, you guys have email, right? No, that will never take off. She didn't want to come and work for us because we haven't got email. That sounds crazy now, for those Gen Y millennial listening to this, but, you know, now, in a couple years, that's going to be the question that somebody will ask you if they're going to come work for you, you know, what do I actually have to do? Is all of that automated? Do I have my own personal robot? [43:55 inaudible] I don't want to do it all that jobs are robots, that's going to be a massive differentiator. The other one, I think, I don't know the answer to this. But I'm fascinated to see how it plays out next year is, if you look at career sites, and there’s a great platform here like an aggregator called the muse.com. I don't know if you've heard of it, it’s in New York. It's where if you want to be one of the cool kids, you advertise on muse, they've got a good brand for themselves. And everything on Muse the same as everything on most career sites is pictures of the office. And everybody since Google, you know, leaked that picture from Zurich a million years ago with the helter skelter right? Everybody wants to be Google-esque.
Jonny Dunning [44:35]: Yeah.
Jonny Dunning [44:36]: Hey, come and work for us. I've got a cool place. When I was working from home, I sort of don't care what the office looks like, I don't care, if you got a foosball machine, right. So what a company is going to do in 2021, organizations that are in the business of employer branding, which we happen to be as well, are going to have a great year as an organization trying to rethink their value. That's going to be interesting, I think that the fundamental piece to all of that is what I call personal ROI, you may work new or work model, which is about not taking one size fits all. You think everybody's attracted and engaged and retained by the same thing. You know, we've all seen the studies where money isn't the most important thing. It's about recognition, it's about belonging. And also, it's fundamentally about advancing, you know, I passionately believe that every Friday night, people want to be exhausted in a good way, the first wine, so that first glass of wine tastes even better. And it's like, boy, I deserve that. That's what you want because you've achieved things going back to my quantization, far worse than that on a Friday night, you say oh, my God, I've worked 12 hours a day, and I've gotten nothing done.
What a disaster. Those are the companies you want to leave? Right? So how do you set people up for success, so that their value is increasing, week by week, month by month, year by year? That isn't just monetary value, it's just as a human being feeling that achieve things.
Do you think that kind of that supports the argument that organizations that are effective at project-tising work and working out really what needs to be done, what are our objectives? Which kind of ties back to the great leadership stuff, which is all about, where are we going? We're all in the boat together, where are we going? And maybe that lends itself to the growth and success of companies that are very effective at doing that. Ultimately, they have to be organized to do that. They need to know where they're going, and therefore they know what they need to get done. And they can recognize when stuff has been achieved, maybe it lends itself towards organizations, again, focusing on that not just for productivity, and, you know, efficiency, but also being able to attract the best suppliers and the best talent.
Bruce Morton [46:57]: Yeah, absolutely. And I think there's, you know, the big debate that all companies are the conversation every company's having right now is, what is our strategy, postcode? Do we mandate people going back to the office? Do we suggest they do? You try to coerce them too, that in itself can be a value crop, depending on who the worker is, right? Some people want to come back. Some people say no, thank you, I'll get more done at home. You know, the concept of a rush hour is crazy [47:26 inaudible] go in, you know, in London, stand on the tube for an hour. Right?
Jonny Dunning [47:30]: Yeah.
Bruce Morton [47:31]: When you could be working. So there's all that stake taking play, I think there's going to be a mad scramble about who are the organizations that are true talent magnets. But yeah, a big piece of it will be all those organizations that understand how to prioritize work, how to get work done far differently. And then what's key to that, of course, is the mindset of whoever's running the show. You know, I talked about the concept you need a Lord of the Rings, group running the organization, not a CEO, it's got to be more than that now, because...
Jonny Dunning [48:04]: You certainly need the Fellowship of the Ring rather than the Dark Lord of Mordor in charge of everything.
Bruce Morton [48:12]: Yeah, because, you know, some baby boomers. I'm a baby boomer. So I guess I'm saying some baby boomers find it hard to change.
Jonny Dunning [48:22[: Yeah.
Bruce Morton [48:23]: And there's one thing for sure is that some organizations have to do right now is change. And trust people, trust, they're going to get the work done, even they can't see them, think differently about getting work done. You can automate things, and so on.
Jonny Dunning [48:37]: I think that also ties into the genuine value of diversity, in the sense that, you know, if you've got diversity within your company, in all areas of diversity, you're going to get different opinions, different thought processes, different angles, different attitudes, and different attributes.
Bruce Morton [48:53]: Yeah.
Jonny Dunning [48:53]: And there's real value in that, in terms of making your business as successful as it can possibly be. So I think that's really exciting.
Bruce Morton [49:02]: Very interesting. Let me be real tactical example of that, that we've just witnessed ourselves here. So we were on Facebook a few months ago with MSP globally 55 countries imagine the size of the Facebook deal, right? Well, they're all they're not employee labor. And we, in 20 weeks, we implemented the whole thing across 35 countries virtually.
Jonny Dunning [49:23: Wow.
Bruce Morton [49:24]: If some of you've come up with an idea, you go to say, you know, with this implementation, we fly people all over the world. They're staying in hotels, a lot of these mothers or fathers were taken away from their families. Why don't we just do a virtual even locked at the border? Crazy idea the client will never go for, a client loved it. One of those speak for them, but they'll say great things was just a phenomenal success. We're not going to go back to the old way. That doesn't mean we won't do some face to face, but we're not going to have people being away from their loved ones for weeks on end when you doesn't need to And it's interesting because when you're online when you're virtual, you know, we learn, you can only have three-hour sessions for these discovery in tech sessions, we just get people to sit in the room for 10 hours. Well, that's a great example of, you know, you sort of kick us out, why didn't we think of that? Well, doesn't really matter, move forward. What can we learn from that? And how can we make sure we don't go back over?
Jonny Dunning [50:27]: Yeah, one of the questions I was going to ask you was around how you saw these changes, and the acceptance of outcome-based remote work, increasing how that was going to affect the way that work gets done, globally. And from my own kind of vantage point, looking at it, I just see how it's just accelerated, that acceptance and that openness. Are there any particular things you guys are seeing in terms of work or forecasting in terms of just the global nature of how work gets done?
Bruce Morton [51:02]: Yeah, I think, I guess everything that I've been saying is, just to reiterate that, and at a macro level, is the growth of...as more and more people outsource work, we need more companies that are outsourced providers to deliver that work that service providers. So I think we're going to see an explosion of contractors getting together with a few of their buddies and call themselves an institution.
Jonny Dunning [51:31]: Yeah, totally variables...
Bruce Morton [51:32]: Workforce diamonds. Right. That's what's going to happen. So you have these mom and pop shops is that gold in the US? You know, four or five guys, hey, we can actually rather than just paying us on a day and out of the way, right. Give us that piece of work, and we'll own it for you. I think there's going to be a massive explosion of those, which is going to take on...will be taking on some of the big boys and girls, which usually has an impact of, you know, a bit of a, you know, price impact, make it more competitive. I think, because of everything you were saying earlier about getting the data and analytics out of the status of work. You know, that deal, I think that's actually giving the little guy a bigger chance and bigger boost.
Jonny Dunning [52:13]: I agree. And ultimately, you know, what's this kind of standard expectation if you run a competitive bid in a services procurement, you'll save 20%. If you run a full procurement process, you could save up to 40%. I think a lot of the time at the moment, particularly with the big consultancies, the big suppliers, they used by default, you know, there isn't data used in the decisions, and there isn't really much evidence on what's being delivered and what's being done. So ultimately, you know, I've heard some procurement experts kind of work with the mantra of always use the smallest supplier you can to get the work done. You know, the innovation and the supplier diversity, I think it's going to massively increase. And you know, what you're talking about people kind of clubbing together to form small consultancies and service providers. And surely the current employment laws that you've got in the US that are starting to get more scrutiny, the IR35 situation in the UK, certainly the stuff that's going on in places like Belgium, France, Netherlands, Germany, I think they're all going to drive similar situations. But in some ways, it's great to see because people are adapting. And they're finding the best ways to get things done. And I think one of the things that always fascinates me around this whole conversation you touched on it briefly earlier, is this idea of who owns it. You know, you've got the HR, stakeholders, you've got procurement stakeholders, you've got operations, you've got finance. And when you look at statement of work and outcome-based work delivery, and how do you see the roles of the different stakeholders in ultimately how the work gets done and how it's managed?
Bruce Morton [53:45]: Yeah, and we're quite optimistic actually, what's happened in the last, I think it already started. But there was also the COVID impact on it is that back in the day MSPs was always procurement, services was always procurement. Then we started seeing HR coming in, and it got to about 50/50. So when we have like, you know, one of our big events for our clients, 50% would be HR, 50% would be procurement, what we're seeing now is actually having them both in the conversation. That's very, very encouraging. You know, and as I mentioned, there's a few companies have created our workforce transformation group or something, I'll call it, but, you know, we've been banging on about that. I did a piece of research and I say, hey, it's got to be 10 years ago about reaching across the chasm between HR and procurements. But we are definitely seeing a true collaboration, not just talking about collaboration, we are seeing that now you've got an equal stake in the game. And they you know, procure looking at it from a procure lens and HR look at it from a talent lense. So that's encouraging, I hope that continues.
Jonny Dunning [54:52]; Yeah, I think it really takes collaboration. You can't just say, one department can do everything because it's too much, you know, you look at the way that HR can add massive value by focusing on looking after people and upskilling people and retaining people. And whereas, procurement involved in a buying exercise, it's a different type of, needs different skills, different type of transaction. And over the top of all of it, you've got the finance heads that are basically saying strategically, what is the most effective use of our resources? And I think that's the key question that companies need to be asking themselves from the CEO down. And it will become the most important question that they're asking themselves, certainly in the current climate that we're in.
Bruce Morton [55:34]: And so that is a positive impact, we've seen slightly off-topic, but just worth mentioning is that we're getting stuff done quicker than we've ever done before, making decisions a lot quicker, because we just got into that rhythm. And you just got to get on with stuff, right? You can't wait, what's going at such a rapid pace. And that's just about setting expectations. You know something which took...taken six months, and a big workstream and a number of workstreams will be groups, let's just get that done in three weeks. Right,
Jonny Dunning [56:08]: We've got the vaccines, you know, it's like, just, you know, in a crisis, you can't afford to procrastinate. And ultimately, it comes down to that whole thing of, you know, if you've got something 85% as good as it could possibly be, but it's going to take you 10 times the amount of time to get it to 90%. 8% is where you should be, that kind of thinking around, you know, being effective. So, I think that yeah, I mean, the vaccines are, hopefully, will turn out to be a great example of that, in the sense of the vaccines normally take 10 years. Now, the side of that, which is kind of slightly different is with a vaccine, normally, you run it for a good few years to see if side effects happenmultiple years later, but just using that as an example of just getting things processes done. And it's incredible, the way that everybody's had to adapt to that. And like you say, companies, I've had multiple stories about companies rolling out remote working strategies in two days, or, you know, two weeks or whatever. Whereas if you'd asked them before, and they're everything's going to break, it's going to be impossible. And I mean, for us, when the lockdown first happened in the UK, and we started working from home, it didn't really change things at all for us.
Because, you know, we're all you know, where software is a service business, everything's cloud-hosted, we're all tech-savvy, we were doing Zoom calls all the time anyway, dealing with overseas customers, etc. And so it wasn't really much of a transition for us. But I was really genuinely surprised at the amount of people that I knew that just didn't know their way around it. And it was a whole new thing. But yeah, it's just, you know, these were crisis situation just increases the speed of adaptation. And in fact, I spoke to one of the senior guys at SAA during the lockdown around some of the stuff that we were doing. And their comment to me was if you look at this kind of scenario, when this type of situation happens, and massive economic change it drives technology transformation exponentially. And they were kind of talking about during the Great Recession, the 2008 credit crunch, and the big recession afterwards, how that drove the adoption of the MSP VMS model exponentially. And talking about how this change is quite possibly going to drive a similar transition from a technical point of view in services procurement. So very interesting, who knows what the next five years holds? Are there any sort of specific predictions you might have? Oh, I know, we've touched on some of it, but kind of key things you think that the next five years will hold?
Bruce Morton [58:41]: I think that there will be a the haves and the have nots. Unfortunately, I think in you know, social equality is also on everybody's lips. I just hope that stays top of mind for everybody because I think all of this, that's massive negativity that's happening right now. Putting that aside, I think also the have and the have nots within organizations, the organizations that get it, they get on board, understand, you can't go back, there's nothing to go back to. We've moved on from that. And truly, truly understand the best way to get work done, they will be the winners.
Jonny Dunning [59:18: And last point before I let you go, so your book, it was originally published in...was it May 2019?
Bruce Morton [59:25]: Yeah.
Jonny Dunning [59:26]: So another. So if you could redesign the way work works, bearing in mind everything that's happened over the last 9/10 months, what would be the key things that you would change or add to the book, and what are the things you think are reflected in terms of your predictions?
Bruce Morton [59:44]: Yeah, and I seriously think...I wish I had time to re-write, I just don't but or do you know an update to it. I don't have time, but a COVID stamp on the front might be good for sales. But I think that I underestimated the speed of change that we're actually capable of.
Jonny Dunning [1:00:05]: Right.
Bruce Morton [1:00:05]: I think I'd have been more gung ho, more aggressive in the book about not just opinion, but more like, hey, you have to do this. So I think because so many things have gone through this last year. So yeah, that'd be the biggest thing, I've been a bit more on my soapbox.
Jonny Dunning [1:00:24]: What is it? I remember the Danish philosopher say, need is the mother of invention.
Bruce Morton [1:00:31]: Yeah.
Jonny Dunning [1:00:32]: And, you know, ultimately, if you had been more gung ho at the time, maybe people wouldn't have believed you. People wouldn't have accepted it. But I think it's probably changed the mindset for everybody.
Bruce Morton [1:00:42]: Yeah.
Jonny Dunning [1:00:43]: Just in terms of how people's lives have changed, and we've adapted. Oh, yeah. Listen, it's been so interesting to chat to you Bruce, really appreciate it. Thanks very much for your time, and some super exciting things on the horizon. And hopefully, a nice Christmas for you and your family and everybody and hopefully a positive and exciting 2021.
Bruce Morton [1:01:05]: Right, and same to you Jonny, thoroughly enjoyed it. Great conversation. Merry Christmas.
Jonny Dunning [1:01:09]: Thanks a lot. Take care.