brainroads-toward-tomorrows mental patterns


pyramid to dna

The managed institution — society’s way of getting things done.


Knowledge — THE resource


the central energy of a modern society —
it exists only in application


“That knowledge has become the resource,
rather than a resource,
is what makes our society “post-capitalist.”
This fact changes—fundamentally—the structure of society.
It creates new social and economic dynamics.
It creates new politics.

“The post-capitalist society is both
a knowledge society and a society of organizations,
each dependent on the other
and yet each very different in its concepts, views, and values.”

“In the knowledge society,
it is not the individual who performs.

The individual is a cost center
rather than a performance center.

It is the organization that performs.”

“It is the very nature of knowledge
that it changes fast and
that today’s certainties
will be tomorrow’s absurdities” — Peter Drucker

“The productivity of knowledge is going to be
the determining factor in the competitive position
of a company, an industry, an entire country” — PFD


The terms knowledge industries, knowledge work and knowledge worker
are nearly fifty years old.

They were coined around 1960, simultaneously but independently—
the first by a Princeton economist, Fritz Machlup,
the second and third by this writer.

Now everyone uses them, but as yet hardly anyone
understands their implications for human values and human behavior,
for managing people and making them productive,
for economics, and for politics.

What is already clear, however, is that the emerging knowledge society
and knowledge economy will be radically different
from the society and economy of the late twentieth century.
Chapter 4, Management, Revised Edition

… “For the major new insights in every one
of the specialized knowledges arise out of another,
separate specialty, out of another one of the knowledges.

Both economics and meteorology are being transformed
at present by the new mathematics of chaos theory.
Geology is being profoundly changed by the physics of matter;
archaeology, by the genetics of DNA typing;
history, by psychological, statistical, and technological analyses
and techniques.” Chapter 48, Management, Revised Edition

Peter observed that we are now in another critical moment:
the transition from the industrial to the knowledge-based economy
We should expect radical changes in society
as well as in business.
“We haven’t seen all those changes yet,” he added.
Even the very products we buy will change drastically. …
He spent the better part of the next two hours defining and pulling this idea apart
(the application of knowledge to knowledge): the importance of
accessing, interpreting, connecting, and translating knowledgemore

The End of Economic Man

Up to Poverty ::: The Vanishing East ::: The rise of new power centers :::
Urban world: The shifting global business landscape

A Century of Social Transformation ::: The priority tasks

Technology, Management and Society

Profits & Profitability

Management and the World’s Work

The New Society of Organizations

From Analysis to Perception — The New Worldview

Knowledge and Technology

Knowledge: Its Economics and Productivity

Management’s New Paradigms

The Next Society

All of this embedded within …

Glossary (wip)

Information — the organizing principle for work

A world organized by information




Dense reading and Dense listening +
Thinking broad and Thinking detailed

attention directing tool


“To know something,
to really understand something important,
one must look at it from sixteen different angles.

People are perceptually slow,
and there is no shortcut to understanding;
it takes a great deal of time.” read more




There was endless debate in the Middle Ages about the hierarchy of knowledges, with philosophy claiming to be the “queen” of the knowledges.

We long ago gave up that moot argument.

There is no higher knowledge and no lower knowledge.

When the patient’s complaint is an ingrown toenail, the podiatrist’s knowledge controls, and not that of the brain surgeon—even though the brain surgeon represents many more years of training and gets a much larger fee.

Conversely, if an executive is posted to a foreign country, the knowledge he or she needs, and in a hurry, is the fairly low skill of acquiring fluency in a foreign language—a language that every native of that country has mastered by age two and without any great investment.

The knowledge of the knowledge society, precisely because it is knowledge only when applied in action, derives its rank and standing from the situation and not from its knowledge content.

What is knowledge, in other words, in one situation, such as the knowledge of Korean for the American executive posted to Seoul, is only information, and not very relevant information at that, when the same executive a few years later has to think through his company’s market strategy for Korea.

This, too, is new.

Knowledges were always seen as fixed stars, so to speak, each occupying its own position in the universe of knowledge.

In the knowledge society, knowledges are tools and, as such, dependent for their importance and position on the task to be performed.




Knowledge Is the Business

Knowledge is the business fully as much as the customer is the business.

Physical goods or services are only the vehicle for the exchange of customer purchasing-power against business knowledge.

Business is a human organization, made or broken by the quality of its people.

Labor might one day be done by machines to the point where it is fully automated.

But knowledge is a specifically human resource.

It is not found in books.

Books contain information; whereas knowledge is the ability to apply information to specific work and performance.

And that only comes with a human being, his brain or the skill of his hands.

For business success, knowledge must first be meaningful to the customer in terms of satisfaction and value.

Knowledge per se is useless in business (and not only in business); it is only effective through the contribution it makes outside of the business—to customers, markets, and end-uses.

To be able to do something as well as others is not enough either.

It does not give the leadership position without which a business is doomed.

Only excellence earns a profit; the only genuine profit is that of the innovator.

Economic results are the results of differentiation.

The source of this specific differentiation, and with it of business survival and growth, is a specific, distinct knowledge possessed by a group of people in the business.

But while there is always at least one such knowledge area in every successful business, no two businesses are alike in their distinct knowledge.




Knowledge realities

These examples convey five fundamentals:

1. A valid definition of the specific knowledge of a business sounds simple—deceptively so …

2. It takes practice to do a knowledge analysis well …

3. Few answers moreover are as important as the answer to this question.

Knowledge is a perishable commodity

It has to be reaffirmed, relearned, repracticed all the time.

One has to work constantly at regaining one’s specific excellence.

But how can one work at maintaining one’s excellence unless one knows what it is?

4. Every knowledge eventually becomes the wrong knowledge.

It becomes obsolete.

The question should always arise: What else do we need?

Or do we need something different? …

5. Finally, no company can excel in many knowledge areas …

Managing for Results




From Peter F. Drucker’s Post-Capitalist Society: Knowledge is not impersonal, like money.

Knowledge does not reside in a book, a databank, a software program; they contain only information.

Knowledge is always embodied in a person; carried by a person; created, augmented, or improved by a person; applied by a person; taught and passed on by a person; used or misused by a person.

The shift to the knowledge society therefore puts the person in the center.

In so doing it raises new challenges, new issues, new and quite unprecedented questions about the knowledge society’s representative, the educated person

(One thing we can predict: the greatest change will be the change in knowledge—in its form and content; in its meaning; in its responsibility; and in what it means to be an educated person)









6 MAY — Knowledge Does Not Eliminate Skill

Knowledge without skill is unproductive.

At present, the term “knowledge worker” is widely used to describe people with considerable theoretical knowledge and learning:

doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, chemical engineers.

But, the most striking growth will be in “knowledge technologists”:

computer technicians, software designers, analysts in clinical labs, manufacturing technologists, paralegals.

These people are as much manual workers as they are knowledge workers; in fact, they usually spend far more time working with their hands than with their brains.

So, knowledge does not eliminate skill.

On the contrary, knowledge is fast becoming the foundation for skill.

We are using knowledge more and more to enable people to acquire skills of a very advanced kind fast and successfully.

Only when knowledge is used as a foundation for skill does it become productive.

For example, surgeons preparing for an operation to correct a brain aneurysm before it produces a lethal brain hemorrhage spend hours in diagnosis before they cut—and that requires specialized knowledge of the highest order.

The surgery itself, however, is manual work—and manual work consisting of repetitive manual operations in which the emphasis is on speed, accuracy, uniformity.

And these operations are studied, organized, learned, and practiced exactly like any other manual work.

The Daily Drucker




Knowledge Lecture II 1989

The idea for these lectures was conceived about a year and a half ago when I got a telephone call and somebody said, “You don’t know me, but I understand that you have done a lot of work in research management.”

And I said, “Yes, I’ve probably made more mistakes in research management than most other people, so I’m qualified as an expert.”

And that person said, “Three months ago I moved from being a biochemist into being the director of one of the world’s largest labs.

And for three months I have been studying what my job is.

And I’ve come to the point where I would like to ask you a question:

Do you think research can be managed?”

And I was near the point of saying, “If you feel you have to ask this question, why don’t you go back and be a biochemist again?”

And then I thought for a while and said, “The answer is yes—but.

It can be managed, but it cannot be managed the way most other things are being managed.

It requires very different things.”

And out of this I started to say it’s about time I try to put together what I have learned in many years of seeing good people struggle with this issue.

And most of the things I developed to help this particular research director—who, by the way, is still in the job and by now I think enjoys it quite a bit—I applied to knowledge of any kind.

In most of human work, change is very slow.

Continuity, both of work and tools, is the rule.

When it comes to skills, it is still largely proved that if you get going through that apprenticeship at age 19, you have a very good chance of not having to learn anything new until you retire.

But knowledge work is the exception.

Change comes very rapidly.

If Socrates the stonemason—that’s how he made his living—came and worked for one of those mason yards that make crosses for our cemeteries, believe me, he would not have to learn much.

Most of the tools are pretty much the same, except that some of them now have a battery.

But if Socrates the philosopher came into one of our philosophy departments today, he would not understand one single word.

And I’m not saying that they’re better than he was.

But they’re totally different.

And that is typical.

I just finished a few weeks ago reading a history of the library.

And the concepts of the library change every 30 or 40 years.

One of the great weaknesses of library school is that it teaches the current technology as the permanent one, when all experience shows that what librarians have to learn is how to learn.

Or take registered nurses.

Over the last 20 or 30 years at least one thing has remained the same: the purpose.

But the way the job is done is almost beyond all recognition for a nurse who started in 1950.

Knowledge, by definition, changes very fast.

And skills, by definition, change very slowly.

This is one of the first things to say in managing.

And let me say this was probably my greatest contribution to the research director.

After we had worked on it for some time, it hit me that his very big, very famous lab was being basically run statically.

We add discoveries, and we add insights, but we don’t change the way we work.

And once we understood it, we began to realize that to overcome his bottlenecks, his frustrations—not all of them, but some of them—he had to build in continuous feedback and learning.

Mostly, this meant sitting down with people and saying, “What have we learned that will force us, or will enable us, will help us, to do things differently?”

As some of you who are in academia know, we don’t do this well.

We basically assume the old craftsman’s assumption about apprenticeship that, once you have gotten your Ph.D., you stop learning and start teaching.

Instead, we should be saying, “That’s when you start helping others to learn.

sidebar ↓

Learning to perform in society and
not just learning to answer
true or false, multiple-choice and essay questions

And that’s when you start learning yourself.”

A knowledge-based organization has to be an entrepreneurial organization in the sense that it always starts out to make itself obsolete, because that is the characteristic of knowledge.

It is not the characteristic of a skill.

And I’m not saying that I know how to do it, and I’m not saying that we know how to do it.

I’m saying that we’re beginning to realize that this makes a tremendous difference.

You’ve probably heard the story of the old grad who comes back to the fortieth reunion, and the old economics prof is still there.

It is May—that’s when reunions are held—so this is final exam time.

And the grad looks at the final exam and says, “Professor Smithers, these are the same questions you asked us 40 years ago.”

And Smithers nods and says, “Yes, but the answers are different.”

We always thought it was a joke. No!

This is wisdom.

The answers to questions do not remain the same.

The answers are different, because we have learned a lot.

What we mostly learn is that the answers that gave you an “A+” 40 years ago are the wrong answers.

The way we go about solving problems has changed, because that’s what you learn.

You learn to do a little better, to push back that infinite boundary of ignorance just a bit.

Among the implications of this is that you have to build in organized abandonment.

Otherwise, you collapse under the overload.

One of the things you learn from working with research organizations is that they become constipated because there’s too much.

Nobody has unlimited resources.

In knowledge work, you have to start out with the need to change, to grow, to do the new, to run very fast with something that opens up.

And you can only do that if you make resources available by freeing them from where there are no longer results

sidebar ↓

results are different from outcomes because they ↑ have to make a contribution on the outside → to society and the individual …

Another thing we need is specialization.

Most human beings excel at one thing at most, and not very many excel even at one.

And very few people excel at more than one.

And I don’t think you’ll find anybody who excels at three.

Yet, at the same time, the computer programer produces nothing by himself.

Results are interdisciplinary.

So, yes, you have to be a specialist.

But knowledge has another very peculiar characteristic, which is that the important new advances do not come out of the specialist’s discipline.

They come from the outside.

It makes no difference what you look at.

Every one of the things that have transformed the discipline of history, for instance, came from outside—from psychoanalysis and psychology, from economics, from population statistics, from archaeology.

These are all things that no historian, during the time I went to school, ever heard of.

And if he did, he was told by his prof, “Look, you study to learn how to read a document in the archives.

That’s difficult enough.”

The same is true when you look at the forebears of the computer.

Very little of it is computer ancestry.

Most of it came from other disciplines.

Or look at the Mazda Miata, which has its American design center someplace in Orange County.

Where did those impulses, those ideas, come from?

Not one came out of automotive design.

They came from metallurgy, they came from material science, because that car is made with composite materials and plastics and what have you—from all kinds of things that I’m reasonably sure no automotive engineer ever learned in class.

So how do you organize for this—the fact that you must have a discipline as a basis, but you also have to organize an awareness of the meaning of things that happen on the outside?


Fortune favors the prepared mind ↓



A discipline is a necessary container, but it’s temporaryvery temporary.

And so how do you do it?

A good many companies have learned that it isn’t enough to have a research director who is a whiz in a certain specialty.

You need a technologist who has an awareness of what goes on in other areas.

And this is not something we yet know how to do systematically, but it’s something we will have to learn.

The last thing to say is that this is work and not good intentions.

It’s got to be measured.

And yet whenever I use that word, people get upset, and they say, “What we do can’t be measured.”

I don’t think I’ve told you the story of how I got into the management of research.

We had just moved from New England to New York, and I was teaching management at NYU.

And I had a neighbor who was research director of one of the large pharmaceutical companies, and we discovered that he and I were both enthusiastic but equally incompetent chess players.

Nobody wanted to play with us, and so we played together.

And one day I came home, and there was this fellow in a great state of agitation.

He had waited for me.

And I said, “What’s the matter, Stanley?”

He was always very quiet.

And he said, “You know, I’ve always been complaining to you how totally disorganized our company is, and how we need management.

And then I told you about the new president of ours who came in six weeks ago, and how delighted I was with him because he was going to actually start managing the place.

Well, he called me in today and said, ‘Stanley, I’ve accepted your proposal, and I’ll appoint a budget committee, and everybody will have a budget.’

And I said, ‘Wonderful!’

And he said, ‘Stanley, you’re going to be chairman of this committee.’

And I said, ‘Wonderful!’

And he said, ‘The first budget I want, Stanley, is that of the research department.’

And I said, ‘Mr. President, what we do in research isn’t determined by us, but by what a lot of rats and guinea pigs and white mice and hamsters do when we put substances under their skin or push them down their gullet.’

And he said, ‘If that is the case, Stanley, please write out your resignation and nominate the brightest hamster.

We’ll make him research director.”

It took me six weeks to get across to Stanley what the president had been trying to tell him.

And he never quite accepted it.

A good many people still feel that way when you say “knowledge work.”

In other words, knowledge is not, in that sense, quantitative.

And so we will have to learn to think through how we measure and how we appraise.

And then I think we can begin to focus knowledge work on results.

One result is productivity, which is woefully low—not because people don’t work hard, but because we don’t know what productivity means.

We made the same mistake with manual work—measuring productivity by how much sweat there is, how hard it is, how many hours are being worked, and how unpleasant it is.

Before [Frederick] Taylor, the main measurement of productivity was how tired people were when they got home.

Well, that’s not the measurement of productivity; that’s the measurement of incompetence.

And we are doing that with knowledge work.

Let me come back to the question I started out with—the question posed by my friend, the research manager, over the telephone a year and a half ago:

“Can knowledge be managed?”

The answer is: We don’t know.

But we do know that it has to be managed, and if knowledge is not managed it only costs and doesn’t produce.

And we know that it has to be managed differently, that you must start out with a few uncommon assumptions, counterintuitive because that’s not the way we look at other work.

You must start out with the assumption that knowledge changes itself—that [the] more you know, the more it changes.

There’s the assumption that, by itself, knowledge is an input, and it has to be integrated to become an output.

And there’s the assumption that knowledge must be concentrated.

If you splinter it, you get very little.

You get journalism, but not knowledge.

And, finally, we know that there is only one standard for knowledge.

Maybe excellence is a big word.

I hate to use it.

But there has to be that kind of self-respect that will not allow you to do shoddy work.

And those are some of the things we know about knowledge as a resource.

It’s always been around, but it’s been a very rare resource.

And for most human pursuits you didn’t need it at all, or very little.

But now it’s the key resource of a modern developed economy and society, and we are just beginning to learn to manage it.

From a lecture delivered at Claremont Graduate School (currently known as Claremont Graduate University).

How could you calendarize this ↑?




Just reading is not enough …

Concepts have to be converted into daily action

book harvesting


Harvesting and action thinking are needed

Managing oneself should be the action foundation

You can select and note areas of interest. You can employ what does this mean for me? (illustration) with the PMI, dense reading and dense listening plus thinking broad and thinking detailed with operacy to see where that takes you. The potential effectiveness of our thinking depends on our existing mental landscape → see experts speak. What’s the next effective action?


Concept acquisition → action conversion → click image ↓


harvest and implement

When we are involved in doing something, it is very difficult
to look outside that involvement — even when our future depends on it.
Additionally, everything eventually outlives its usefulness continue


And now for the rest of the story




Find “knowledge” on these pages:

bbx A Century of Social Transformation — Emergence of Knowledge Society

While watching History Channel programs (Modern Marvels and War documentaries) try to isolate and document the roles of knowledge development plus the knowledge management.

bbx Knowledge: Its Economics and Its Productivity

bbxThe Definitive Drucker

bbx The Effective Executive Preface

bbx The Effective Executive

bbx Management, Revised Edition

bbx The Daily Drucker

bbx Knowledge management

bbx “Definition”: from dictionaries; 2) Encyclopedia

See a knowledge system view for a terrain exploration.

Find “knowledge” in Peter Drucker’s books

- - -

List of topics in this Folder


“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.

It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
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.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting point



To create a site search on Google’s site ↓

Type the following in the search box on the Google’s site:

your search text



What needs doing?




Donations: Please click the button below to make a donation through PayPal.

Other forms of PayPal payment besides donations

Why donate?

Copyright 2001 2005 2007 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 © All rights reserved | bobembry | bob embry | “time life navigation” © | “life TIME investment system” © | “career evolution” © | “life design” © | “organization evolution” © | “brainroads toward tomorrows” © | “foundations for future directed decisions” ©

rlaexp.comreal life adventures + exploration

More info …