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What matters in knowledge work

This Venn diagram by Oscar Berg says a lot about the nature of work and management today.

KnowledgeWorkerProductivityVennWhat I see on the right are all the attributes of being a free agent and working in trusted networks like the Internet Time Alliance or Change Agents Worldwide. The only thing missing from these networks is a salary. Almost everything on the left is a control measure in return for a salary. It reinforces the blunt stick of economic consequences as the prime motivator to do work.

If we want knowledge workers to be truly productive we have two major options. We can create new organizational models. These could be new or based on one of the well-known 18 bossless companies. Or we can try a hybrid model, as Rod Collins advocates to Steve Denning [Collins’ other two models are a sub-set of the 18].

The third option is the hybrid option. This is more likely what a big old firm is going to use. Hybrid options are transition options. You are blending network features with a hierarchical structure. It can happen in a couple of ways.

That’s about it, because the status quo is not really an option. Not for leadership and not for dealing with complexity.

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