Knowledge workers can change the game. Knowledge can be used as an asset to improve the effectiveness of your business. Exponentially. You can use knowledge to improve your process or product. You can gain efficiencies or create differentiates. It’s not about having people just spend time in their jobs during the week. It’s about creating enough space where knowledge workers can think of new ways to do things. It’s about harvesting those ideas and turning them into results.
In The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management (Collins Business Essentials) , Peter Drucker writes that knowledge workers must focus on the results of the entire business.
Key Take Aways
Here’s my key take aways:
- Ask knowledge workers how to improve the business. If you don’t use the learnings to improve the business, it’s a waste. It won’t happen automatically. You have to to it by design.
- Focus the knowledge work on the results across the business. The real benefits come from focusing the knowledge work to improve the entire organization.
- Set knowledge workers up for success. Knowledge work takes time. Carve out large chunks of time for real knowledge work, otherwise, it’s just the same daily grind.
In a competitive world, with rapid cycles of change, you can’t compete on throwing time at problems. You need to compete with smarter ways for better days. It’s not about how much time you spend on things. It’s about how much value you create. It’s really about how efficient and effective you are with your time and knowledge.
Questions to Ask Knowledge Workers
Drucker writes that wherever knowledge workers perform well in large organizations, senior executives take time out, on a regular schedule, to sit down with them, sometimes all the way down to green juniors, and ask:
- What should we at the head of this organization know about your work?
- What do you want to tell me regarding this organization?
- Where do you see opportunities we do not exploit?
- Where do you see dangers to which we are still blind?
- And, all together, what do you want to know from me about the organization?
Knowledge Workers Must Focus on the Results and Performance of the Entire Organization
Knowledge workers must focus on the results of the entire organization. Drucker writes:
The knowledge worker must be focused on the results and performance goals of the entire organization to have any results and performance at all. This means that he has to set aside time to direct his vision from his work to results, and from his specialty to the outside in which alone performance lies.
Make Large Chunks of Time Available
Knowledge work takes time and a supportive setting. Drucker writes:
This leisurely exchange is needed equally in a government agency and in a business, in a research lab and in an army staff. Without it, the knowledge people either lose enthusiasm and become time-servers, or they direct their energies toward their specialty and away from the opportunities and needs of the organization. But such a session takes a great deal of time, especially as it should be unhurried and relaxed. People must feel that “we have all the time in the world.” This actually means that one gets a great deal done fast. But it means also that one has to make available a good deal of time in one chunk and without too much interruption.
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