Is knowledge work improvable?

Jim McGee is asking Is Knowledge work improvable?. He contrasts the “organic” approach of “knowledge-enablers” espoused by Kim Sbarcea and others with Taylorism. Sbarcea attacks the Taylorist, “command and control” approach to KM, but McGee rebuts with “it is a mistake to confound the issue of what to call knowledge management with objections to Taylorism.”

McGee goes on to link in thoughts triggered by Peter Drucker’s 1999 article “Knowledge-Worker Productivity: The Biggest Challenge.” and identifies that knowledge work is a process replete with feedback loops.

In a similar head-space, excited utterances points to Metrics for CM and KM by James Robertson

My instinct is that all of these approaches are useful, especially if you can apply them synergistically. The key, I believe, is good stakeholder analysis around the relevant knowledge-work process, asking questions such as:

  • Who are the groups affected by this process?
  • What values do they associate with the work and it’s outcomes?
  • What do they need to see from “improvements” to convince them the change is worthwhile?

For example, whilst the management who are investing in systems, tools, training etc. will want to see metrics that show a hard ROI, the practitioners and their immediate “customers” might be more concerned about how it helps them solve problems, or whether their knowledge contributions and expertise are recognised…

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Julian Elve
Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change

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