Montag, 28. Februar 2011

Why it is not enough to be a Knowledge Worker

You are doing your job, define your problems within the responsibility of your organization, analyze, assess input in order to evaluate complex or conflicting priorities, connect on the appointed topic, deploy divergent as well as convergent thinking on the task that you were assigned to by your manager, you are doing the things right, you are the perfect Knowledge Worker.
And yet, sorry, mate, you failed!

The corporate challenges ahead of us demand more, they demand the Knowledge Citizen.
The “Knowledge Worker” is a transitional term, describing a change in the ways of working in order to live up to the defined expectations on the worker of the late 20th century. The Knowledge Worker is leveraging on knowledge in hirarchical, quasi-static organizational structures with assigned tasks and responsibilities. In the 21st century the “worker” becomes in many industries a red-list animal, replaced by empowered employees. And the Knolwedge Worker must be transferred into the Knowledge Citizen.

The term is most easily understood from the fact that every human being is a world citizen. In this context – were the corporate is ignored – the World Knowledge Citizen is taking responsibility, he becomes the facilitator for Knowledge Mobilization. Here by default the external command is missing, the contribution is based on the internal motivation, giving meaning to existence, deploying a responsibility again based on existence, not on assignment. Knowledge is the criteria to contribute, not a mandate of authority.
But as one can be a world citizen and a citizen of a nation / country, taking responsibility as part of the world or the nation / country, there is apart from the World Knowledge Citizen also a Corporate Knowledge Citizen. Someone who is feeling and taking responsibility as he is part of the corporate organism, based on the insights and understandings, on the knowledge, he brings to the table.
“The only constant is change”, and the more truth and relevance this statement holds, the more static structures have problems to cope. Complex structures build to meet volatile challenges are out-lived by the time they are implemented. Decisions must be taken where the knowledge is, not brought via cumbersome lines of command towards where the authority is. Teams organize themselves reacting fast on complex challenges across organizational borders and dissolve with the same speed for re-organizing for other tasks and ideas. Innovation appears where knowledge is put into new contexts, where various knowledge aspects get connected. This all demands for the Knowledge Citizen. The Corporate Knowledge Citizen is the extension of the Knowledge Worker into a networked company. The Corporate Knowledge Citizen deploys the ways of working of the Knowledge Worker, but adds to it empowerment and taking responsibility, self-organization in ever-changing contexts, thought leadership and mastering replaces the hirarchies and organizational structure to slow for change. He not only does things right, but also determines, which are the right things. The Knowledge Citizen is a Knowledge Worker, who has extended horizon from department to corporate and industry.
This goes also along with change work patterns.
Thus Ericsson has defined the following expectations on the Knowledge Citizen that go beyond the ones for a Knowledge Worker:
        Organizes work for re-use
        Creates and shares knowledge
        Supports existing knowledge flows
        Strives to teach and transfer knowledge
        Refines knowledge assets by constructively reviewing & commenting
        Raises relevant questions and contributes towards discussions
        Understands giving feedback as a business instrument of a learning orgnanization
        Supports innovation by contributing, evaluating and giving feedback, takes risks in innovation
        Developes constantly the network and involves relevant stakeholders
        Seeks to learn from others and demands learning capabilities, learns from mistakes
        Acts as a role model
        Supports open leadership communication
        Re-uses knowledge and turns knowledge assets into business contribution
        Handles knowledge security in a responsible manner
        Deploys collaborative ways of working and supports sustainability
        Ambassadors corporate’s knowledge capabilities

It is no coincidence that these expectations go along with the introduction of Web2.0 capabilities as they enable an effective citizenship (world and corporate) and lower the transaction costs to an extend that break even has been passed. Collaboration is the way of being for the Knowledge Citizen.

Good arguments for the new term “Knowledge Citizen”? If not convinced yet, stay tuned, as the term invites also for the corporate perspective, but this is another story and needs another post.


1 Kommentar:

  1. Hello

    I really appreciated this post as I've just been watching Pierre Levy talking about collective intelligence with Howard Rheingold.

    Am I able to subscribe to your blog? It may say it somewhere in German?

    i like the fact you are taking this beyond the knowledge worker to the knowledge citizen.In some public institutions in Australia they are selling people the knowledge worker concept to make them contribute more to the existing hierarchy with its traditional power structures. So nothing fundamentally has changed just people doing more for less funds.


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