In physics, work is defined as force times distance. The beauty of this equation lies in its simplicity, its immutable logic. Work is defined by the result of what has been accomplished, the force applied to an object times distance the object was pushed. Anyone who has pushed large objects around can attest, it's as raw a definition of work as you can get.

Conventional business thinking tells us that when people work they must be compensated for their time. Here there is a cost to getting work done, and that cost is defined as salary (or rate) times time worked. The explicit agreement in any employment arrangement is that the employer seeks to generate more value than the overall investment in the individual worker, and the individual seeks some level of compensation at some level of safety and stability.

However, there is also an implicit agreement, that the employer is taking risk on whether or not workers will be able to complete their duties on time and of quality; and, the individual worker is taking risk on where this assignment will lead to on a career path, "what's next?" "where's more?" Accordingly, and especially in these headcount restrictive times, large employers are turning to external labor suppliers such as consulting firms and outsource operations to share in the risk of delivering work.

As with the physics definition, corporations are shifting their definition of work to be more focused on the result, work as a noun, less so on the verb use of work. We should still care about workers and how they are compensated but it is incorrect for this to be the initial consideration. First, the buyer of work must understand for themselves what their optimal balance is for quality, speed, risk, and price; then and only then, can we begin to assess which channel of talent, be they internal or external, are best suited to the requirements at hand.

Now the new definition of work is talent divided by risk. Work, as in the end result output, is a function of talent, the quality, size, and orchestration of workers, and inversely proportional to risk, the potential for things to fail, delay, or exceed budgeted cost assumptions.