July 2014
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TD Magazine

Word Wiz: Flash Team

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Have you ever been witness to—or part of—a flash mob? Then you'll grasp the idea of a flash team, which is a group of professionals who are brought together suddenly to accomplish a specific, complex task.

Flash mobs are the product of today's mobile technology which allows us to mass-communicate instantaneously while on the go. The concept of flash team grew out of this mode of social coordination. Researchers at Stanford University coined the term as they conducted experiments on crowdsourced teamwork, and found that in this model, creative, open-ended, or highly complex tasks often remain unfinished due to poor coordination.


The researchers developed a more efficient way to crowdsource project work. In a flash team, experts are selected to participate by virtue of their skills, and tasks and workflows are coordinated. The team can be scaled up or down in size, and its focus retargeted. One individual is directly responsible for project completion.

As knowledge work becomes more remote and project-based, more organizations could turn to flash teams to get work done. Flash teams are said to be especially beneficial to start-ups because they could be used to augment the founding team.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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