Another good resource popped up in my feed this morning. The Process Excellence Network has published a white paper, Making Knowledge Workers More Productive: Insights from the Works of Peter F. Drucker. It is a compilation of Drucker-related articles by PEX Network writers, especially Robert W. Swaim and William F. Cohen.
As you can guess from the title, the focus of the white paper is productivity and continuous improvement, but don't let that get in your way. There are some great quotes and summaries in there - some that I hadn't connected to Drucker previously. Some example quotes and thoughts inspired by my perusal of the paper:
- "If an organization wants to be able to work on opportunities, it must be able to abandon the unproductive and slough off the obsolete," Peter Drucker said. This is in connection to a discussion on innovation. I think this is a key to making any changes: If you are going to do something new, you have to stop doing something that isn't working as well. "What should we abandon." is another Drucker quote in this line.
- And a related thought in the paper, "Lack of creativity is, therefore, not the problem of today's organization. Rather it is organizational inertia which always pushes for continuing what we are already doing."
- Drucker's six (or is it eight?) key factors that determine knowledge worker productivity are almost the opposite of what determine physical worker productivity. Thus management of this work is very different. (One of those factors asks, "What is the task" - and helping the knowledge worker focus on that.)
- Knowledge worker productivity is decreasing* for a number of reasons, all having to do with improper attitudes toward "efficiency" - busy work, rather than valuable work. (* evidence for this? Some might be found in the Deloitte Center for the Edge studies, such as the Shift Index.)
- It's obvious but it bears repeating, knowledge worker outputs are usually inputs into someone else's work stream. My caution is that the danger of this view (solo knowledge worker) is that we ignore the end goal of the work.
- Thought: I wonder how much Drucker talked about the need for collaboration to get knowledge work completed? (I see that it is a chapter in The Definitive Drucker, Collaboration and Orchestration.)
- The white paper contains a longish list of characteristics of knowledge workers, the kinds of work they want, how they want to perform, and what motivates them (pages 17-18). Looking through the list, I wonder if these characteristics have changed. It makes "knowledge workers" sound very introverted. In the phrasing, they sound very anti-management - which is something that Drucker talks about too: they need to be led, not managed.
- And one of my favorite Drucker quotes, "Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing."