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Focus

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  • Fred Nickols
    Apologies for the cross-posting but, in the interests of efficiency, it s the obvious thing to do. First, let me make clear to any eagle-eyed moderators that I
    Message 1 of 10 , Jan 1, 2003
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      Apologies for the cross-posting but, in the interests of efficiency, it's
      the obvious thing to do.

      First, let me make clear to any eagle-eyed moderators that I am NOT
      attempting to draw any members away from this list (whichever one it might
      be). Instead, I am announcing my general disengagement from the lists in
      the address field above. I'm far too old to cover the entire waterfront
      and so I am choosing to focus on the one issue that has held my attention
      for more than 30 years: knowledge work and the problems associated with
      improving its productivity. To that end I have established yet another
      list on Yahoo. This one is titled KM-KW and it will focus first on
      knowledge work and, second, on knowledge management. Anyone having any
      interest in those discussions is free to sign up and participate. You can
      find out more by searching on Yahoo's site for KM-KW or by sending me an email.

      For what it's worth, I am not unsubscribing from any of the above lists,
      however, my participation will be confined to quickly scanning the digest
      versions and to occasionally commenting about issues where I genuinely
      believe I have something worth saying.

      A happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to all list members on all lists.


      Regards,

      Fred Nickols
      nickols@...
    • Fred Nickols
      ... I first encountered the concepts of knowledge work and knowledge workers in 1969 while reading Peter Drucker s book, The Age of Discontinuity. In it he
      Message 2 of 10 , Jan 2, 2003
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        > Date: Wed, 1 Jan 2003 13:26:38 EST
        > From: tony@...
        >Subject: Re: Focus
        >
        >Fred,
        >
        >I got a kick out of your posting that announced you were going to start a new
        >forum where you would be spending most of your focused "forum time." Based
        >on how many forums you are subscribed to, I find it amazing that you were
        >able to ever do more than "quickly scan the digest versions and to
        >occasionally comment about issues where you genuinely believe you have
        >something worth saying." To do more than that would surely take all day
        >every day. :-)
        >
        >Sounds like you want to create your own forum so that it more precisely fits
        >your needs, rather than each of many forums partially meeting you where you
        >are at.
        >
        >Can you elaborate on what exactly is the issue that has held your attention
        >for more than 30 years? What exactly is knowledge work? What kinds of
        >problems are associated with improving its productivity?
        >
        >I'm fascinated...


        I first encountered the concepts of knowledge work and knowledge workers in
        1969 while reading Peter Drucker's book, The Age of Discontinuity. In it
        he claimed that the great challenge facing management was to do for
        knowledge work what Frederick W Taylor had done for manual work, namely,
        subject it to scientific study and analysis for the purpose of making it
        more productive. He also claimed that we knew very little about knowledge
        work (still true) and that we knew even less about how to make it more
        productive (also still true). That struck me as a great opportunity for
        someone like me who had and still has an interest in human behavior and
        performance in the workplace. What made it so fascinating to me then --
        and now -- is that it is easy to see how to make manual work more
        productive precisely because it is easy to see. Not so with knowledge work
        where many of the behaviors of interest are covert instead of overt. Yet,
        overt behavior had to be the starting point because that's all you can lay
        your eyes on initially. The problems associated with making knowledge work
        productive are legion, not the least of which is the fact that I suspect
        many managers and executives feign interest in making knowledge work more
        productive but know in their hearts that their own work stands at the top
        of the list, making them the primary targets. Naturally, they're less than
        enthusiastic on that score. Early on I figured out how to make one form of
        knowledge (or at least "mental") work more productive, a form of work found
        in large quantities and performed by people known as claims examiners, loan
        officers, insurance underwriters and so on. I refer to that class of work
        as "adjudication" and what I've learned after numerous bouts with
        productivity improvement projects in that area is that, ultimately, I don't
        really care what people are doing with their heads, all that really matters
        is what I want them to use their heads to do. That is in stark contrast to
        some folks who claim they can find out what people are doing in their
        heads. So, for that class of work, I can develop algorithms that depict
        the decision logic to be applied to any given situation and I can easily
        train people to carry them out. But, once you develop the algorithms, they
        can also be stuffed into a computer so why bother with people? (Which led
        me and some colleagues of mine to once wonder, "What the heck are we going
        to do with all these people once we automate their work?")

        What's really been fascinating is that a couple of organizations have been
        so impressed by what was accomplished that they hired me on staff. Then
        then promptly put me to work on just about anything and everything except
        making work more productive. Oh well.


        Regards,

        Fred Nickols
        Distance Consulting
        nickols@...
        www.nickols.us
      • Fred Nickols
        ... No, my interest doesn t center on developing algorithms, although algorithms are still useful tools in certain situations, particularly those that fit a
        Message 3 of 10 , Jan 3, 2003
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          >Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 14:29:12 EST
          > From: tony@...
          >Subject: Re: Re: Focus
          >
          >Fred,
          >
          >So, what will the purpose of your new forum be? To connect people who want
          >to impove the productivity of knowledge workers?
          >
          >Based on your last post (see below), your particular interest in improving
          >the productivity of knowledge workers seems to center around developing
          >algorithms that depict decision logic of effective practitioners in an effort
          >to more effectively train new workers. Will the focus of your new forum be
          >around this kind of knowledge work improvement? I'm just trying to gain more
          >clarity around what the essence of your focus will be.
          >
          >Fred wrote: "...ultimately, I don't really care what people are doing with
          >their heads, all that really matters is what I want them to use their heads
          >to do. That is in stark contrast to some folks who claim they can find out
          >what people are doing in their
          >heads. So, for that class of work, I can develop algorithms that depict
          >the decision logic to be applied to any given situation and I can easily
          >train people to carry them out. But, once you develop the algorithms, they
          >can also be stuffed into a computer so why bother with people? (Which led
          >me and some colleagues of mine to once wonder, "What the heck are we going
          >to do with all these people once we automate their work?")"

          No, my interest doesn't center on developing algorithms, although
          algorithms are still useful tools in certain situations, particularly those
          that fit a class of work I call "adjudication" and my earlier remarks
          applied primarily to that class of work. Frankly, and no affront intended,
          I don't think claims examiners are what most people mean by the term
          knowledge workers. Personally, I think of them as information
          workers. Researchers and professors and managers and executives are
          probably more representative of knowledge workers.

          As for my "focus," that is as stated: first, knowledge work and then
          knowledge management. Focus, however, is different from clarity. It's
          been my experience that clarity typically emerges in the course of an
          effort and rarely exists in full-blown detail at the outset of any
          initiative. I'm interested in discussing and debating and examining issues
          and questions like the following:

          What is knowledge work?
          How, if it does, does it differ from other kinds of work?
          How can knowledge work be made more productive?
          What is knowledge?
          What is knowledge management?

          I think those will do for starters.


          Regards,

          Fred Nickols
          Distance Consulting
          nickols@...
          www.nickols.us
        • John D. Smith
          Fred Nickols [mailto:nickols@safe-t.net] wrote on Wednesday, January 01, 2003 8:37 AM To: mg-ed-dv@maelstrom.stjohns.edu; learning-org-digest@world.std.com;
          Message 4 of 10 , Jan 3, 2003
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            Fred Nickols [mailto:nickols@...] wrote on Wednesday, January 01,
            2003 8:37 AM
            To: mg-ed-dv@...; learning-org-digest@...;
            trdev@yahoogroups.com; perfmgt@yahoogroups.com; humperf@yahoogroups.com;
            com-prac@yahoogroups.com; ROInet@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [cp] Focus

            <snip>

            To that end I have established yet another
            list on Yahoo. This one is titled KM-KW and it will focus first on
            knowledge work and, second, on knowledge management. Anyone having any
            interest in those discussions is free to sign up and participate. You
            can
            find out more by searching on Yahoo's site for KM-KW or by sending me an
            email.

            <snip>

            Fred,

            You have been a persistent critic around the myths that communities can
            be created and your launch of yet-another-yahoo-list makes me wonder how
            you see your role as host or convener of this group. From a
            "community-building" perspective it would be interesting to hear a
            "before" and "after." To me it sounds like you are subscribing to one
            of our deepest and oldest articles of faith, to wit: "to generate new
            knowledge, make a social move, gathering people into a new, and
            sustained, conversation."

            Or am I

            John

            --*
            --* John D. Smith - John.Smith @ LearningAlliances.net
            --* www.LearningAlliances.net V: 503.963.8229
            --* CoP Workshop starts Jan 27, 2003: www.cpsquare.com/edu/foundations
            --* "Memory and imagination supply and consume each other's wares" -
            Jerome Bruner
          • Fred Nickols
            ... I appreciate the pointers. I m already plugged into KnowledgeBoard (thanks to Chris Macrae) although not yet much of a contributor. However, my interest
            Message 5 of 10 , Jan 4, 2003
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              To Paul McDowall, who writes:

              >I am thrilled to see the continued growth in practice and interest in the
              >topic of Knowledge Management and to see the depth of sharing that takes
              >place both online and in personal spaces. I am chairperson of a CoP on the
              >topic of KM in the Canadian federal public sector (ikmf_figs on YahooGroups)
              >and I am a member of many other communities on KM and various related
              >topics, most of which are also on YahooGroups. Are you aware of some of the
              >many YahooGroups communities on KM? There are literally hundreds.
              >Knowledgeboard also has some excellent online communities on the topic as
              >well. There may already be one/some out there that exist already that
              >fulfill your particular needs, so that you don't need to start another one.

              I appreciate the pointers. I'm already plugged into KnowledgeBoard (thanks
              to Chris Macrae) although not yet much of a contributor. However, my
              interest isn't so much KM as it is KW (knowledge work) and I'm not aware of
              any lists focusing on KW.

              To John Smith, who writes:

              >You have been a persistent critic around the myths that communities can
              >be created and your launch of yet-another-yahoo-list makes me wonder how
              >you see your role as host or convener of this group. From a
              >"community-building" perspective it would be interesting to hear a
              >"before" and "after." To me it sounds like you are subscribing to one
              >of our deepest and oldest articles of faith, to wit: "to generate new
              >knowledge, make a social move, gathering people into a new, and
              >sustained, conversation."

              Well, my aim is not to build a community -- of interest or of practice --
              although such a thing might emerge. I simply want to work the issues of
              knowledge work and making it more productive and, at the same time, I
              recognize that KM is a relevant, related issue; indeed, properly focused,
              KM might be the key to making knowledge work more productive -- but not, I
              don't think, as an IT-centered mechanism.

              Anyway, the notion of some kind of reflection later on makes sense and,
              suitably reminded, I'll be happy to do that.


              Regards,

              Fred Nickols
              Distance Consulting
              nickols@...
              www.nickols.us
            • Fred Nickols
              ... I did. They don t fit. Regards, Fred Nickols Distance Consulting nickols@safe-t.net www.nickols.us
              Message 6 of 10 , Jan 5, 2003
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                At 10:54 AM 1/5/2003 +0000, you wrote:
                >Message: 4
                > Date: Sat, 04 Jan 2003 21:02:17 -0600
                > From: "Fourth Wave Group, Inc." <laramie@...>
                >Subject: Re: Re: Focus
                >
                >All,
                >
                >Excuse me, sounds like deja vu all over again. Back to basics
                >and fundamental definitions. Gound hog day, endless loop, etc, etc.
                >
                >There are some definitions on my Web site, www.fourthwavegroup.com
                >Try them on for size, and the technology short stories there. It's ad-free!


                I did. They don't fit.




                Regards,

                Fred Nickols
                Distance Consulting
                nickols@...
                www.nickols.us
              • Andy Swarbrick
                Fred, I think that the areas you want to start a conversation sound very interesting, but I would like to echo Paul McDowall when he says. ... are literally
                Message 7 of 10 , Jan 5, 2003
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                  Fred,

                  I think that the areas you want to start a conversation sound very
                  interesting, but I would like to echo Paul McDowall when he says.

                  >Are you aware of some of the many YahooGroups communities on KM? There
                  are literally hundreds. Knowledgeboard also >has some excellent online
                  communities on the topic as well. There may already be one/some out
                  there that exist
                  >already that fulfill your particular needs, so that you don't need to
                  start another one.

                  Creating a community of people on the web is an expertise in itself, in
                  fact the ability to draw in a number of participants into a sustained
                  and productive discussion is I feel the real definition of knowledge
                  work.

                  I think we need to avoid the elitist view of knowledge work as it being
                  the haunt of only the executives in organizations. This fails to
                  acknowledge the hidden work that goes on in organizations in building
                  the bonds that allow knowledge to be shared, created and sustained in
                  "living ways". as in the work of wenger, seely-brown and duguid etc)

                  I struggle to see how any definition on knowledge work would not take in
                  to account network building activities.
                  In my mind the issue of network building is how I differentiate between
                  traditional work and knowledge work.

                  Also, it would be very interesting to here if anyone on this list or
                  others does NOT in their definition of a knowledge worker include what
                  they do.

                  We can not define knowledge work as work the requires knowledge to
                  complete, as this is an insult to all those who we consider not to be
                  knowledge workers. All efforts to differentiate employee's in this way I
                  see as just a way of continuing the old hierarchal models of
                  hierarchical organizations, with knowledge workers (the one with the
                  answers) at the top and information workers below them.

                  While this is model that could work, it is not one that I would want to
                  live in, furthermore it is not one that I would like to help create.
                  The real reason that I am interested in knowledge management, CoP etc
                  and participate in these online groups is to try and find ways of
                  building/ supporting better social organizations.

                  I look forward to your response, I think issues round the definition of
                  knowledge work will be very important, however I would really like to
                  see it as an integrated part of a wider discussion.


                  Kind Regards

                  Andy Swarbrick
                  TecLAB
                  Department of Speech Communication
                  University of Illinois
                  Urbana
                  IL61820
                  Illinois
                  USA
                  @: swarbric@.../ andy@...
                  url: http://www.knowledge-business.co.uk
                  Yahoo Group : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/knowledgenetworks

                  <snip>

                  To that end I have established yet another
                  list on Yahoo. This one is titled KM-KW and it will focus first on
                  knowledge work and, second, on knowledge management. Anyone having any
                  interest in those discussions is free to sign up and participate. You
                  can
                  find out more by searching on Yahoo's site for KM-KW or by sending me an
                  email.

                  <snip>

                  Fred,

                  You have been a persistent critic around the myths that communities can
                  be created and your launch of yet-another-yahoo-list makes me wonder how
                  you see your role as host or convener of this group. From a
                  "community-building" perspective it would be interesting to hear a
                  "before" and "after." To me it sounds like you are subscribing to one
                  of our deepest and oldest articles of faith, to wit: "to generate new
                  knowledge, make a social move, gathering people into a new, and
                  sustained, conversation."

                  Or am I

                  John

                  --*
                  --* John D. Smith - John.Smith @ LearningAlliances.net
                  --* www.LearningAlliances.net V: 503.963.8229
                  --* CoP Workshop starts Jan 27, 2003: www.cpsquare.com/edu/foundations
                  --* "Memory and imagination supply and consume each other's wares" -
                  Jerome Bruner




                  ::: http://www.egroups.com/group/com-prac
                  ::: Email com-prac-unsubscribe@egroups.com to unsubscribe



                  Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
                  http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                • Fred Nickols
                  ... Well, as I said when I responded to Paul, KM is of secondary interest on the new list I founded; my main focus is knowledge work, the KW half of the KW-KM
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jan 6, 2003
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                    Andy Swarbrick writes:

                    >Fred,
                    >
                    >I think that the areas you want to start a conversation sound very
                    >interesting, but I would like to echo Paul McDowall when he says.
                    >
                    > >Are you aware of some of the many YahooGroups communities on KM? There
                    >are literally hundreds. Knowledgeboard also >has some excellent online
                    >communities on the topic as well. There may already be one/some out
                    >there that exist
                    > >already that fulfill your particular needs, so that you don't need to
                    >start another one.

                    Well, as I said when I responded to Paul, KM is of secondary interest on
                    the new list I founded; my main focus is knowledge work, the KW half of the
                    KW-KM label.

                    >Creating a community of people on the web is an expertise in itself, in
                    >fact the ability to draw in a number of participants into a sustained
                    >and productive discussion is I feel the real definition of knowledge
                    >work.

                    As I indicated to John Smith, I'm not out to build a community of people on
                    the web; that's not my objective. My objective is to explore and examine
                    the concept of knowledge work with an eye toward pinning it down and
                    finding ways and means of making it more productive.

                    >I think we need to avoid the elitist view of knowledge work as it being
                    >the haunt of only the executives in organizations. This fails to
                    >acknowledge the hidden work that goes on in organizations in building
                    >the bonds that allow knowledge to be shared, created and sustained in
                    >"living ways". as in the work of wenger, seely-brown and duguid etc)

                    I'm probably as anti-elitist as they come. That said, I'm aware of the
                    tendency to view and treat knowledge workers as an elite echelon of the
                    worker population. I don't see myself falling into that trap so what
                    prompted your comment? Was it my inclusion of executives as members of the
                    knowledge worker grouping? Teachers and trainers belong in there, too, so
                    do many managers, especially those that spend a lot of time developing
                    their people. Say some more about your concern on this score.

                    >I struggle to see how any definition on knowledge work would not take in
                    >to account network building activities.

                    I don't see where I've left that out. By the same token, I haven't
                    included it, either.

                    >In my mind the issue of network building is how I differentiate between
                    >traditional work and knowledge work.

                    Say some more about that, please.

                    >Also, it would be very interesting to here if anyone on this list or
                    >others does NOT in their definition of a knowledge worker include what
                    >they do.

                    I include some of what I do as knowledge work. Some of it is clerical
                    work, more concerned with processing information than producing
                    knowledge. Some of it probably qualifies as good old manual work, more
                    concerned with things than with information, ideas or people.

                    >We can not define knowledge work as work the requires knowledge to
                    >complete, as this is an insult to all those who we consider not to be
                    >knowledge workers.

                    I'm having trouble deciphering that sentence; I think you've probably
                    packed a couple of paragraphs into a compound sentence and I need you to
                    unpack it for me.

                    >All efforts to differentiate employee's in this way I
                    >see as just a way of continuing the old hierarchal models of
                    >hierarchical organizations, with knowledge workers (the one with the
                    >answers) at the top and information workers below them.

                    I'm not trying to differentiate employees on the basis of the work they
                    do. I'm trying to find out if there is in fact any reasonable basis on
                    which to do that. I suspect there is; nay, I know there is. One way of
                    differentiating employees on the basis of the work they do is to look at
                    them in terms of their relative ease of replacement. Thus it is that a
                    secretary might very well be doing work that, in the larger scheme of
                    things, is every bit as vital to the success of the enterprise as someone
                    else but, owing to the nature and condition of the labor market, the
                    secretary is much more easily replaced than, say, a research
                    scientist. I'm also not about to lump all employees into one
                    undifferentiated pile and treat them all equally. Equitably, yes; equally, no.

                    >While this is model that could work, it is not one that I would want to
                    >live in, furthermore it is not one that I would like to help create.

                    To what model do you refer?

                    >The real reason that I am interested in knowledge management, CoP etc
                    >and participate in these online groups is to try and find ways of
                    >building/ supporting better social organizations.

                    What is a "better social organization"? Are you talking about making
                    business organizations better places to work?

                    >I look forward to your response, I think issues round the definition of
                    >knowledge work will be very important, however I would really like to
                    >see it as an integrated part of a wider discussion.

                    And what would you call that "wider discussion"?


                    Regards,

                    Fred Nickols
                    Distance Consulting
                    nickols@...
                    www.nickols.us
                  • Andy Swarbrick
                    Hi Fred and all Sorry Fred if I wasn t very clear in my last email, about some of my own thoughts about knowledge work. I am afraid I have to catch what little
                    Message 9 of 10 , Jan 7, 2003
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                      Hi Fred and all

                      Sorry Fred if I wasn't very clear in my last email, about some of my own
                      thoughts about knowledge work. I am afraid I have to catch what little
                      time I have to cobble together emails for this email list.
                      I hope that what I write is still useful to someone, somewhere :-).




                      Fred Nickols writes

                      >
                      > Well, as I said when I responded to Paul, KM is of secondary
                      > interest on
                      > the new list I founded; my main focus is knowledge work, the
                      > KW half of the
                      > KW-KM label.

                      I think what I was trying to say is that there are a large number of
                      groups that may well already be looking at knowledge work, it is just
                      that perhaps like myself they don't separate it from KM.
                      How can you have knowledge management if no one is doing the knowledge
                      work to create the knowledge? :-)

                      > I write:
                      > >Creating a community of people on the web is an expertise in
                      > itself, in
                      > >fact the ability to draw in a number of participants into a
                      > sustained
                      > >and productive discussion is I feel the real definition of knowledge
                      > >work.

                      > Fred Replies
                      > As I indicated to John Smith, I'm not out to build a
                      > community of people on
                      > the web; that's not my objective. My objective is to explore
                      > and examine
                      > the concept of knowledge work with an eye toward pinning it down and
                      > finding ways and means of making it more productive.

                      I wasn't suggesting that building a community of people on the web s
                      your final goal, but it does seem that to achieve your objective you are
                      attempting to get a virtual "gathering" of people who share your
                      interest to use an electronic medium to pass information on the subject
                      of knowledge work between each other.

                      Some people may refer to that as an online community....




                      > Fred Writes
                      > I'm probably as anti-elitist as they come. That said, I'm
                      > aware of the
                      > tendency to view and treat knowledge workers as an elite
                      > echelon of the
                      > worker population. I don't see myself falling into that trap so what
                      > prompted your comment? Was it my inclusion of executives as
                      > members of the
                      > knowledge worker grouping? Teachers and trainers belong in
                      > there, too, so
                      > do many managers, especially those that spend a lot of time
                      > developing
                      > their people. Say some more about your concern on this score.

                      Fred it was this comment that made me raise the elitist issue.

                      >I don't think claims examiners are what most people mean by the term
                      >knowledge workers. Personally, I think of them as information
                      >workers. Researchers and professors and managers and executives are
                      >probably more representative of knowledge workers.

                      I think the issue is that the definition of knowledge work, and
                      especially knowledge workers is something that is very dependent on the
                      culture of the group that you are looking at. This will vary not just
                      from country to country but from organization to organization.
                      I think it is very difficult to use traditional terminology that has
                      various cultural interpretations as being representative of knowledge
                      workers. I am a researcher myself and while sometimes the work I do is
                      just as much information processing as a claims examininer.

                      I would like to know what makes the teachers, trainers, executives,
                      managers and researchers knowledge workers?
                      Is it because of their output i.e. Knowledge? Or is it because of
                      activities or processes that they engage in?

                      >Me:
                      >>In my mind the issue of network building is how I differentiate
                      between traditional work and knowledge work.
                      > Fred:
                      > Say some more about that, please.

                      My view is that knowledge work has always existed. It would have to
                      otherwise we would have no knowledge ;-)
                      This work has been in the most part hidden kinds of work, the building
                      of relational bonds and creating common mental models. Building trusted
                      links in a group gives them the opportunity to share knowledge ,
                      creating shared mental models provides them with the capability.

                      Often more attributed to processes of leadership I think these
                      activities form the basis of the more obvious manifestations of
                      knowledge work. i.e. the production of bespoke knowledge that would lead
                      to the creation of a new product or service.

                      Perhaps what I am suggesting is more "knowledge networking", and is
                      precursor to any "knowledge work".
                      Before you can create new knowledge by combining old knowledge, you need
                      to have in place a network that will provide you with all the resources
                      you will need to complete this activity.

                      It is because I see knowledge networking and knowledge work being so
                      closely linked that I feel that knowledge work should be more closely
                      integrated with social processes.

                      I hope I have made this a little clearer

                      > Me:
                      > >We can not define knowledge work as work that requires knowledge to
                      > >complete, as this is an insult to all those who we consider
                      > not to be
                      > >knowledge workers.
                      >Fred:
                      > I'm having trouble deciphering that sentence; I think you've probably
                      > packed a couple of paragraphs into a compound sentence and I
                      > need you to
                      > unpack it for me.

                      Ok, Fred you are not knowledge worker, it does not take any knowledge or
                      insight to do what you do. John on the other hand is a knowledge worker,
                      we need the unique knowledge in his head to make this organization tick.

                      I think what needs to be recognized that everyone can engage in
                      knowledge work some of the time.
                      If knowledge is so valuable, then the more knowledge work going on the
                      better.
                      The danger is that only certain people get the tag knowledge worker, and
                      knowledge work becomes exclusive to them.

                      My problem is that, I consider building relationships and common
                      understanding as being an important part of knowledge work. However,
                      relationships are two way, and therefore a knowledge worker by
                      interacting with a non-knowledge worker would be making them do
                      knowledge work (which is not their job).

                      In terms of planning rewards for performance and work done, only one
                      person in that interaction will gain any benefit unless knowledge work
                      is recognized as being a part of everyone's job.



                      > Fred:
                      > I'm not trying to differentiate employees on the basis of the
                      > work they
                      > do. I'm trying to find out if there is in fact any
                      > reasonable basis on
                      > which to do that. I suspect there is; nay, I know there is.
                      > One way of
                      > differentiating employees on the basis of the work they do is
                      > to look at
                      > them in terms of their relative ease of replacement. Thus it
                      > is that a
                      > secretary might very well be doing work that, in the larger scheme of
                      > things, is every bit as vital to the success of the
                      > enterprise as someone
                      > else but, owing to the nature and condition of the labor market, the
                      > secretary is much more easily replaced than, say, a research
                      > scientist. I'm also not about to lump all employees into one
                      > undifferentiated pile and treat them all equally. Equitably,
                      > yes; equally, no.


                      The problem is that a secretary is not always just a secretary, the
                      impact of losing this person to the social organization may actually be
                      more severe than you initially think. While it maybe more difficult in
                      terms of filling the position to get a new research scientist, in terms
                      of the overall flow of knowledge through the organization the research
                      scientist is likely to be a specialist at the periphery and losing the
                      secretary may actually cause more disruption..

                      But then again it depends on the people and how the way they work
                      together has evolved over time.


                      > Me:
                      > >I look forward to your response, I think issues round the
                      > definition of
                      > >knowledge work will be very important, however I would
                      > really like to
                      > >see it as an integrated part of a wider discussion.
                      > Fred
                      > And what would you call that "wider discussion"?

                      As I mentioned previously one that takes into account the social aspects
                      of knowledge work, that are deeply entrenched in the issues surrounding
                      CoP.

                      Kind Regards

                      Andy Swarbrick
                      TecLAB
                      Department of Speech Communication
                      University of Illinois
                      Urbana
                      IL61820
                      Illinois
                      USA
                      @: swarbric@.../ andy@...
                      url: http://www.knowledge-business.co.uk
                      Yahoo Group : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/knowledgenetworks
                    • chris macrae www.valuetrue.com <wcbn007@
                      Hi I ve got a bit lost in huge mailbags recently. Just a couple of comments I want to lob in I believe that knowledge management has often got lost in some
                      Message 10 of 10 , Jan 8, 2003
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Hi

                        I've got a bit lost in huge mailbags recently. Just a couple of
                        comments I want to lob in

                        I believe that knowledge management has often got lost in some
                        technological middle whereas what matters (to me!) are
                        1) its roots -these should be Drucker's knowledge worker (that is
                        every worker can now use their strengths rather than be slaves in
                        line to dumb machines - the industrial age paradigm)
                        2) systems and systems squared and systems cubed and how to openly
                        see these connections as simply as we can roadmap how to travel from
                        Illinois to John O'Groats

                        Regarding 1) I know of no better moderator than Fred Nickols, in the
                        ansence of Drucker who once told me he didnt much fancy distributing
                        his ideas on the web on top of eberything else he does

                        Regarding 2) yes the European Union has accidentally started to spawn
                        many platforms for discussion groups in these areas - in particular
                        its Commissioner of Social Affairs and Employment is encouraging 25
                        countries cabinet offices to open up their social and human capital
                        planning for all to see on co-content managed web spaces - at least
                        that's what she appears to say at at bottom thread you can find here:
                        http://www.knowledgeboard.com/community/zones/sig/kmei.html

                        and now she's made her declaration a hundred of us are turning up at
                        a two day meeting in Berlin in a fortnight's time to plot how to keep
                        her promise buzzing round our boards - see eg
                        http://www.knowledgeboard.com/community/zones/sig/angels.html

                        I fear that these endeavours smack of cpcubed but then systems always
                        multiply one power beyond communities as far as I can see?

                        chris macrae wcbn007@... mobile Uk 07931442446


                        --- In com-prac@yahoogroups.com, "Andy Swarbrick" <andy@r...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Fred,
                        >
                        > I think that the areas you want to start a conversation sound very
                        > interesting, but I would like to echo Paul McDowall when he says.
                        >
                        > >Are you aware of some of the many YahooGroups communities on KM?
                        There
                        > are literally hundreds. Knowledgeboard also >has some excellent
                        online
                        > communities on the topic as well. There may already be one/some out
                        > there that exist
                        > >already that fulfill your particular needs, so that you don't need
                        to
                        > start another one.
                        >
                        > Creating a community of people on the web is an expertise in
                        itself, in
                        > fact the ability to draw in a number of participants into a
                        sustained
                        > and productive discussion is I feel the real definition of knowledge
                        > work.
                        >
                        > I think we need to avoid the elitist view of knowledge work as it
                        being
                        > the haunt of only the executives in organizations. This fails to
                        > acknowledge the hidden work that goes on in organizations in
                        building
                        > the bonds that allow knowledge to be shared, created and sustained
                        in
                        > "living ways". as in the work of wenger, seely-brown and duguid etc)
                        >
                        > I struggle to see how any definition on knowledge work would not
                        take in
                        > to account network building activities.
                        > In my mind the issue of network building is how I differentiate
                        between
                        > traditional work and knowledge work.
                        >
                        > Also, it would be very interesting to here if anyone on this list or
                        > others does NOT in their definition of a knowledge worker include
                        what
                        > they do.
                        >
                        > We can not define knowledge work as work the requires knowledge to
                        > complete, as this is an insult to all those who we consider not to
                        be
                        > knowledge workers. All efforts to differentiate employee's in this
                        way I
                        > see as just a way of continuing the old hierarchal models of
                        > hierarchical organizations, with knowledge workers (the one with the
                        > answers) at the top and information workers below them.
                        >
                        > While this is model that could work, it is not one that I would
                        want to
                        > live in, furthermore it is not one that I would like to help
                        create.
                        > The real reason that I am interested in knowledge management, CoP
                        etc
                        > and participate in these online groups is to try and find ways of
                        > building/ supporting better social organizations.
                        >
                        > I look forward to your response, I think issues round the
                        definition of
                        > knowledge work will be very important, however I would really like
                        to
                        > see it as an integrated part of a wider discussion.
                        >
                        >
                        > Kind Regards
                        >
                        > Andy Swarbrick
                        > TecLAB
                        > Department of Speech Communication
                        > University of Illinois
                        > Urbana
                        > IL61820
                        > Illinois
                        > USA
                        > @: swarbric@u.../ andy@r...
                        > url: http://www.knowledge-business.co.uk
                        > Yahoo Group : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/knowledgenetworks
                        >
                        > <snip>
                        >
                        > To that end I have established yet another
                        > list on Yahoo. This one is titled KM-KW and it will focus first on
                        > knowledge work and, second, on knowledge management. Anyone having
                        any
                        > interest in those discussions is free to sign up and participate.
                        You
                        > can
                        > find out more by searching on Yahoo's site for KM-KW or by sending
                        me an
                        > email.
                        >
                        > <snip>
                        >
                        > Fred,
                        >
                        > You have been a persistent critic around the myths that communities
                        can
                        > be created and your launch of yet-another-yahoo-list makes me
                        wonder how
                        > you see your role as host or convener of this group. From a
                        > "community-building" perspective it would be interesting to hear a
                        > "before" and "after." To me it sounds like you are subscribing to
                        one
                        > of our deepest and oldest articles of faith, to wit: "to generate
                        new
                        > knowledge, make a social move, gathering people into a new, and
                        > sustained, conversation."
                        >
                        > Or am I
                        >
                        > John
                        >
                        > --*
                        > --* John D. Smith - John.Smith @ LearningAlliances.net
                        > --* www.LearningAlliances.net V: 503.963.8229
                        > --* CoP Workshop starts Jan 27, 2003:
                        www.cpsquare.com/edu/foundations
                        > --* "Memory and imagination supply and consume each other's wares" -
                        > Jerome Bruner
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
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