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. 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.

5 Responses to “What matters in knowledge work”

  1. Jon Husband

    At the time being, I’d argue for this option if I were an established organization of any size more than a couple of hundred people.


    Well, actually I guess we have been arguing for this option / approach for a while, actually.

  2. Jon Husband

    This option, that is ..

    “”Hybrid options are transition options. You are blending network features with a hierarchical structure. It can happen in a couple of ways.””

  3. Christian DE NEEF

    The diagram also depicts the difference between enterprise 1.0 (left) and 2.0 (right), between the old/traditional world of work, and the new world of work (NWoW as we say in Europe). Since about 7-8 years now, we have been living comfortably (and successfully) on the right hand side, in trusted networks such as CollaborationLab, coproduce.it, or the very local Wallonie Collaborative (now Orchestraaa). Change Agents Worldwide is possibly quite similar…

    But it’s also the representation of our client relationships. As a network of 2.0 consultants (see my twitter list https://twitter.com/cdn/lists/consulting20) we are on the right, and our (mostly large) 1.0 clients are on the left. All we do is change management, transitioning organizations… They don’t end up where we are, they end up in a hybrid model! – @cdn


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