What Your Company Can Learn From Hollywood’s Embrace of Project-Based Work

A great Hollywood movie doesn’t require a famous actor or amazing special effects or even (let’s be honest) a great script. But the one thing that every great Hollywood movie has in common is the fact that it was created by a team of highly-skilled individuals who came together for this one big, amazing, badass project — and then (usually) disbanded.

That kind of work is called “project-based work” and current trends suggest that if you want your company to be as excellent as the latest Hollywood blockbuster, it’s time you start thinking about making it a part of doing what you do.

But what exactly is project-based work? It’s when people with specific skills come together to work on a specific project. The team can be either freelance, full-time, or a mix of both. Once the project is complete, that team disbands — and teams can recombine later for the next project, which might require a different set of skills.

So when the studio signs off a new Star Wars film, for example, they won’t mobilise their existing team of full-time employees to start production. Instead, they’ll assemble a group of freelance experts with complementary skills, everything from lighting to makeup, costumes, sets, props, and acting.

Teams have always been a part of how we work, but before the rise of project-based work, companies would build fixed teams internally and have them work together over years. That’s great for companies that do the same things over and over again, but if you’re constantly working to solve different problems that need a combination of different skills, you could be sacrificing on quality.

Project-based work is the future of work because it ensures you can use the most qualified people for each project, rather than making the best with the set of employees that you currently have. Freelancers plug the gaps in skills in your team and ensure you create the best work possible. When you bring together the most skilled people from all over the world for each specific project, just like they do in Hollywood, your work can reach a new level of quality.

If you want to start implementing project-based work in your company’s workflow, start by thinking about the structure of your business. Are there any upcoming projects where you feel like your existing team may not have the perfect set of skills to complete the task? If so, think about how you could engage people from different departments in your company to help work on this project. Or, if you don’t have the skills internally, think about bringing on a freelancer for the duration of the project.

The upshot of this is it ties in perfectly with one of the strongest desires of millennials -- to engage in varied work. When your HR manager can tell incoming applicants that they will have the chance to work on different projects regularly as they become specialized in a certain, valuable skill, it will have a huge impact on your acceptance rate.

Like a great Hollywood movie, your company’s next great project relies more on the team that completes it than anything else. And by integrating project-based work into how your company does things, you can ensure that it will be a Blockbuster.

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