At the non-billable hour, guest-writer Ron Baker says Attorneys Aren't Knowledge Workers, based on comments of his colleague, Dan Morris.
In light of my last post titled Your Employees are Volunteers, this one is sure to cause some cognitive dissonance. My VeraSage Institute colleague Dan Morris thinks I'm wrong about professional firms being filled with knowledge workers; he believes the majority of them are more akin to factory workers.
Now I know this is a heretical view, but Dan assembles a very powerful argument to support his assertion. He doesn't deny professionals have the potential to be knowledge workers. His argument is they are not largely because of the incentives and structures of the firms in which they operate, which function like sweatshops of yore.
Yow. This is a great set of thoughts about knowledge work and follows very much on the original idea of knowledge workers by Peter Drucker: companies need knowledge workers more than they need the company. The gist of what Ron and Dan are saying is that the individual and the corporation must work in unison to create the opportunity for knowledge-full work to happen. Smart people being measured on efficiency are not knowledge workers. Knowledge work seeks to contribute growth and find ways to expand the capabilities of the organization.
I love their list of characteristics of knowledge workers:
Dan further supports his argument by stating that true knowledge workers:
- Don't have billable hour quotas.
- Spend at least 15% of their time innovating and creating better ways to add value to customers (this destroys efficiency under the old metrics!).
- Understand that judgments and discernment are far more important than measurements in assessing performance.
- Are focused on outputs, results and value, not inputs, efforts and costs.
- Don't fill out timesheets accounting for every 6 minutes of their day.
- Are trusted by their leaders to the right thing for the firm and its customers.
- Are passionate and self-motivated, and don't need constant supervision.