In today’s interconnected world, organizations have unprecedented access to a vast pool of talent beyond their traditional boundaries. From current employees to ex-employee vendors and freelancers, the ecosystem offers a wealth of cognitive surplus waiting to be tapped. In this article, we’ll explore the concept of open talent, its benefits, and how organizations can leverage it to drive innovation and achieve their goals.

Understanding Open Talent

Open talent refers to the practice of sourcing talent and expertise from a diverse network of individuals and organizations, both within and outside the traditional workforce. Unlike traditional employment models, which rely solely on internal resources, open talent leverages external contributors to complement and enhance internal capabilities. This approach allows organizations to access specialized skills, knowledge, and perspectives that may not be available in-house.

Benefits of Open Talent

The adoption of open talent models offers several benefits for organizations:

Access to Specialized Expertise: By tapping into a global network of talent, organizations can access specialized expertise in various domains, from technology and design to marketing and strategy.

Flexibility and Scalability: Open talent models provide organizations with the flexibility to scale their workforce up or down based on project requirements, without the overhead costs associated with traditional hiring.

Diversity of Thought: By engaging with a diverse range of contributors, organizations can benefit from fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and creative solutions to complex challenges.

Cost Savings: Leveraging open talent can often be more cost-effective than hiring full-time employees, as organizations only pay for the services rendered or the outcomes delivered.

Real-Life Examples of Open Talent in Action

Several organizations have successfully embraced open talent models to drive innovation and achieve business objectives:

Procter & GambleP&G launched its Connect+Develop program, which invites external innovators, entrepreneurs, and scientists to collaborate on product development and innovation projects. Through this initiative, P&G has successfully brought new products to market and enhanced its competitive edge.

NASA – National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) utilizes open innovation platforms to crowdsource solutions to complex technical challenges. By engaging with a global community of problem solvers, NASA has been able to accelerate innovation and achieve breakthroughs in space exploration.

INNOCENTIVE Research Advisory Partners Inc.InnoCentive is an online platform that connects organizations with a global network of problem solvers. Companies can post challenges on the platform, offering cash rewards for solutions to specific problems. Through InnoCentive, organizations have access to a diverse pool of talent and expertise, enabling them to solve complex problems quickly and efficiently.

Leveraging Open Talent for Success

To harness the power of open talent effectively, organizations must adopt a strategic approach:

Define Clear Objectives: Clearly define the goals and objectives of engaging with open talent, ensuring alignment with overall business strategy and objectives.

Identify Key Contributors: Identify key contributors within the ecosystem who possess the skills, expertise, and experience needed to support your initiatives.

Foster Collaboration and Innovation: Create a culture of collaboration and innovation by providing platforms and tools that facilitate communication, knowledge sharing, and idea generation among contributors.

Establish Trust and Transparency: Build trust and transparency within the ecosystem by establishing clear expectations, communicating openly, and recognizing and rewarding contributions.

Measure and Evaluate Performance: Implement metrics and KPIs to track the performance and impact of open talent initiatives, allowing for continuous improvement and optimization.


Open talent presents a valuable opportunity for organizations to access specialized expertise, drive innovation, and achieve business objectives. By embracing open talent models and leveraging the cognitive surplus of the ecosystem, organizations can stay competitive, adapt to changing market dynamics, and unlock new opportunities for growth and success.

Hello, folks! I was born P Ashokkumar, but everybody calls me PASH. I’ve realized my full potential thanks to the inspiring leaders and mentors I’ve met on my journey from India to working for one of the Big4 consulting firms. I had a wonderful upbringing, and I credit my parents for making me who I am today. I can switch gears quickly and aim for perfection in everything I do. Years of travel have taught me to keep my cool under pressure.

Ashokkumar Prabhakar has been a business transformation strategy partner for almost thirty years, working with clients in the Asia Pacific and Europe. He holds a master’s degree in information systems from B.I.T.S. Pilani, a certificate in executive leadership from Cornell University, is a lifetime fellow of the Institute of Directors, and is currently enrolled in the S.P. Jain School of Global Management’s doctorate program in business administration.

Source: Harnessing the Power of Open Talent: Maximizing the Cognitive Surplus of the Ecosystem