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Knowledge Work - What is it?

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  • Knowledge Work - What is it?

    Can someome elaborate in their own words?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Knowledge work...

    Thinking about doing, is different than doing...

    In college, I had one of the best jobs...at the dining commons, I was the "pot and pan washer."

    My job was incredible! When I arrived to work in the evening, the cooks had already left for the day (no one was adding to my stacks). There were three sinks: Wash, Rinse, Disinfect. On the left, a huge pile of dirty pots and pans. Spread around the kitchen were hooks and shelves to store the clean pans.

    I worked until the left of the sink was clear, and all the pans were stored. This was NOT knowlege work.


    Fast forward in time to 2004.

    When I'm in the office, I receive new e-mails throughout the day. I am usually working on an article or two at any given time. I also have travel arrangements to make. Throw in all kinds of personal issues to handle (dentist appointments to make, car repairs to schedule, etc).
    This is knowledge work.

    Knowledge work is different than industrial work. A knowledge worker has to "decide" what to do, while an industrial worker has a set outline of what to do.

    Most folks I work with have some version of both of these going at any given time. Our specialty is in creating "punch lists" for people who have to think about their work, but don't have time to re-think about what they've thought about before.

    For example, we encourage people to process e-mail before doing it. Instead of reading all the ( http://davidco.com/pdfs/tt_email.pdf]e-mail ), closing the "unimportant ones" and only doing the urgent ones, ( http://davidco.com/pdfs/tt_workflow_chart.pdf )PROCESS them all. This way, it's not necessary to go back into a "semi-processed" in-basket and re-think what you've already thought about.


    Here's some info re: the father of the principle of Knowledge Management:

    http://home.att.net/~nickols/chronicle.htm

    Comment


    • #3
      Read Jim McGee's blog on Knowledge Work

      Jim McGee is a deep thinker and writes frequently about knowledge work. I strongly suggest you visit his blog and do a search on that term. A wealth of profound thought awaits you:

      http://www.mcgeesmusings.net/index.html

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Read Jim McGee's blog on Knowledge Work

        Originally posted by mochant
        Jim McGee is a deep thinker and writes frequently about knowledge work. I strongly suggest you visit his blog and do a search on that term. A wealth of profound thought awaits you:

        http://www.mcgeesmusings.net/index.html
        In his March 23rd blog entry, this guy makes mention of this tool ---> http://www.activewords.com/demos.html

        It looks interesting. Is anyone else using it?

        Comment


        • #5
          ActiveWords rocks!

          I've written a bit about ActiveWords at my blog:

          http://blogs.officezealot.com/marc/archives/000161.html
          http://blogs.officezealot.com/marc/archives/000174.html
          http://blogs.officezealot.com/marc/archives/000229.html
          http://blogs.officezealot.com/marc/archives/000437.html

          It's an amazing productivity enhancer. There's a very active (sorry for the pun) user discussion at Yahoo! Groups as well with a lot of participation by the developers.

          --Marc

          Comment


          • #6
            I feel that knowledge work is work that will get mixed up with your own personal thoughts, fears, and hopes.

            Your thoughts fears and hopes will only impact on non-knowledge work (e.g. servicing a car engine) if you let them interrupt you concentration. But the stuff you handle Ė the engine, the parts - and the procedures you follow, all had a solid place in the world before you got to them. You donít have to make decisions about changing the oil or checking the timing Ė you just do them.

            This is not a downer on this work: not by a long shot. All Iím saying is that the work is by and large located outside your head, whereas knowledge work gets in behind your eyes and messes everything up. You canít take a car home in your head and continue working on it an hour after knocking off time, but a knowledge problem likes to hang about and wreck your evening.

            Both types of work require skill and experience - in both cases we make decisions based on previous similar situations. (In fact, the decision aspect of car maintenance is knowledge work Ė will a particular part last until the next service? This customerís car is old; would he accept a second-hand part? Should I buy spark plugs from a different supplier Ė slightly cheaper, but maybe not as long lasting? Etc etc).

            But when you get down to doing the actual work, itís on the bench in front of you, not stuck in your brain. Also, your boss/customer already knows what the end product is, and you donít have to invent a new way of doing it either.

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            • #7
              Thanks everyone!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Anonymous
                This is not a downer on this work: not by a long shot. All Iím saying is that the work is by and large located outside your head, whereas knowledge work gets in behind your eyes and messes everything up. You canít take a car home in your head and continue working on it an hour after knocking off time, but a knowledge problem likes to hang about and wreck your evening.
                Ha! This reminds me of when I was in college and longed for the day I had a "normal" job so that I wouldn't always be worrying night and day about the papers, tests, studying,etc.. Now, that I'm a "professional", it's worse than ever!

                C

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                • #9
                  Re: Knowledge Work - What is it?

                  Grey,

                  I just had an ah-ah this week about Knowledge Work.

                  It seems to me that the vast majority of people today are continually engaged in Knowledge Work. Stuff (knowledge, information) either just keeps coming into our lives and we have to figure how to deal with it (or we don't deal with some or all of it) or we can create stuff that we want to do.

                  GTD is how you deal with all this knowlege. I think GTD is the skill or craft that we need to be able to deal with all the stuff in our lives. The ah-ah was thinking about GTD as being a skill or craft like carpentary or metalworking. It is not a philosophy it is the skill you need for dealing with knowledge versus a physical material. If you think about it like this everyone needs to be trained (apprenticed) in GTD because everyone is dealing knowledge.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think it's about "creating and managing" opportu

                    Originally posted by whitetornado
                    It seems to me that the vast majority of people today are continually engaged in Knowledge Work. Stuff (knowledge, information) either just keeps coming into our lives and we have to figure how to deal with it (or we don't deal with some or all of it) or we can create stuff that we want to do.

                    http://jason.davidco.com/blogs/jason...ntoopportunitY


                    Hi there,

                    I wrote about this last month. I have considered, for the past several years, that my purpose on the planet is to create, for myself and for others, maximum opportunities. Not that any of us will be able to "do" everything that we think about...but what if we thought about everything we could do?

                    Then...go for it...identify a NEXT ACTION and add it to the list. Just see what shows up! My experience...

                    well, let's just say I have fun!

                    http://jason.davidco.com/blogs/jason...x/enoughtimeto

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Knowledge Work - What is it?

                      Originally posted by whitetornado
                      GTD is how you deal with all this knowlege. I think GTD is the skill or craft that we need to be able to deal with all the stuff in our lives. The ah-ah was thinking about GTD as being a skill or craft like carpentary or metalworking. It is not a philosophy it is the skill you need for dealing with knowledge versus a physical material. If you think about it like this everyone needs to be trained (apprenticed) in GTD because everyone is dealing knowledge.
                      This is why I think DA's karate metaphor is so apt. Like a martial artist, a GTD practitioner needs to constantly exercise the skills, establish mental discipline, and recognize that there is always room for improvement.

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