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Knowledge workers

This is a working draft. It is also an attention directing tool.

This topic will bubble to the top of my to do list following my conceptual resource wip


We need to measure knowledge worker productivity

Knowledge: its economics and productivity



Managing The Knowledge Worker: The New Challenge

Management Revised Edition    Management Cases Revised Edition

Amazon Links: Management Rev Ed and Management Cases, Revised Edition

See contents of Management Cases, Revised Edition

Managing knowledge work and the knowledge workers is essentially a new task.

We know even less about it than we know about the management (or mismanagement) of the manual worker.

It is, therefore, the more difficult task.

But because it is new, it is not burdened with a long history of bitterness, of mutual suspicion, and of outdated restrictions, rules, and regulations.

Managing knowledge work and knowledge worker therefore can focus on developing the right policies and practices.

It can focus on the future rather than on undoing the past, on the opportunities rather than on "problems."

Managing knowledge work and the knowledge worker will require exceptional imagination, exceptional courage, and leadership of a high order.

In some ways it will be a far more demanding task than managing the manual worker.

The weapon of fear—fear of economic suffering, fear of job security, physical fear of company guards or of the state's police power—which for so long substituted for managing manual work and the manual worker, simply doesn't work at all for knowledge work and knowledge workers.

Knowledge workers, except at the very lowest levels, are not productive under the spur of fear; only self-motivation and self-direction make them productive.

They have to be achieving in order to produce at all.

The productivity of every developed society depends increasingly on making knowledge work productive and the knowledge worker achieving.

This is a central social problem of the new, the knowledge society.

There are no precedents for the management of knowledge work.

Knowledge work traditionally has been carried out by individuals working by themselves or in small groups.

Now knowledge work is mostly carried out in large, complex, managed institutions.

The knowledge workers are not even the successor to yesterday's "knowledge professionals."

They are the successors to yesterday's skilled workers.

Worse, we cannot truly define, let alone measure, productivity for most knowledge work.

One can define and measure it for the salesclerk in the retail store.

But productivity is already a murky term with respect to the field salesperson of a manufacturing business.

Is it total sales?

Or is it the profit contribution from sales, which might vary tremendously with the product mix an individual salesperson sells?

Or is it sales (or profit contribution) related to the potential of a sales territory?

Perhaps a sales representative's ability to hold old customers should be considered central to his or her productivity.

Or perhaps it should be the ability to generate new accounts.

These problems are far more complex than the definition and measurement of the productivity of even the highly skilled manual worker.

There one can almost always define and measure productivity in terms of the quantity of output—for example, the number of pairs of shoes produced per hour, per day, or per week, subject only to a quality standard.

Achievement for knowledge workers is much harder to define.

No one but the knowledge workers themselves can come to grips with the question of what in work, job performance, social status, and pride constitutes the personal satisfaction that makes a knowledge worker feel that she contributes, performs, serves her values, and fulfills herself.

(On the management of knowledge work and worker, see chapter 19.)

Chapter 17, Management, Revised Edition

The world is too complex to adequately capture any topic on one page.

I have an extensive collection of conceptual resources and tools that can … These are superior to a search engine … Proof > Google: view Japan Japanese art vs. "a view of Japan through Japanese art" (in quotation marks) > Connect with : mental patterns, Peter's Principles, organization evolution, learning, personal branding, knowledge economics and productivity using my site map (below). See contact info

Other topics.


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving toward unimagined futures.

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working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then figure out a coping plan for what you’ve rejected.

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