The Nature of Knowledge Work


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This talks about knowledge workers, what they look like, what the qualities of knowledge work are, some background in where mass production and scientific management came from, and then ultimately what technology that will support knowledge work will need to look like.

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  • Great presentation ! Clearly emphasizes that work process done by knowledge workers is clearly different from traditional industrial processes that records business transactions.

    Is there any tool that helps at least paint these processes (rather I call scenarios) if we really cannot model as in traditional BPMNS tools
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The Nature of Knowledge Work

  1. 1. <ul><li>The Nature of Knowledge Work </li></ul><ul><li>Keith D. Swenson </li></ul><ul><li>VP R&D, Fujitsu America </li></ul><ul><li>Tech Committee Chairman, WfMC </li></ul><ul><li>April 15, 2010 </li></ul>
  2. 2. Knowledge Workers Why do they need special treatment?
  3. 3. What does a knowledge worker look like?
  4. 4. Maybe…
  5. 5. (Few expect a Knowledge Workers to look like this) People who “figure out” what they need to do.
  6. 6. People who weigh many factors and determine courses of action
  7. 7. People whose actions are based on many sources of information.
  8. 8. People who gather clues follow up, and discover things.
  9. 9. People who set the rules or think outside the box
  10. 10. People who face uncertain situations and courses that are not fixed.
  11. 11. Knowledge Work  Everywhere <ul><li>Rescue work </li></ul><ul><li>Complex Insurance or Bank Transaction </li></ul><ul><li>Police / Legal Investigation </li></ul><ul><li>Financial Audit </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinating a meeting </li></ul><ul><li>Exception, such as a Billing Dispute </li></ul><ul><li>Medical Treatment </li></ul><ul><li>Help desk </li></ul><ul><li>Management of a start-up company </li></ul><ul><li>Hiring Talent </li></ul><ul><li>Executive Management </li></ul>
  12. 12. Qualities of knowledge work <ul><li>Non-Repeated </li></ul><ul><li>No two financial audits lead to the same results or action plans </li></ul><ul><li>No two news stories are gathered from the same places </li></ul><ul><li>No two company mergers are identical </li></ul>
  13. 13. Qualities of knowledge work <ul><li>Non-Repeated </li></ul><ul><li>Unpredictable </li></ul><ul><li>The course of a legal case can take many unexpected turns </li></ul><ul><li>Crime investigation is a classic example of unexpected events </li></ul><ul><li>Executives need to weigh many conflicting factors to lead their organization </li></ul>
  14. 14. Qualities of knowledge work <ul><li>Non-Repeated </li></ul><ul><li>Unpredictable </li></ul><ul><li>Emergent </li></ul><ul><li>A doctor runs a test on a patient </li></ul><ul><li>leading to a treatment plan </li></ul><ul><li>which is monitored & additional tests </li></ul><ul><li>which leads to modified treatment </li></ul><ul><li>which is monitored …. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Qualities of knowledge work <ul><li>Non-Repeated </li></ul><ul><li>Unpredictable </li></ul><ul><li>Emergent </li></ul><ul><li>Robustness in the face of variable conditions </li></ul><ul><li>High velocity, and highly reliable organizations run on knowledge work </li></ul>
  16. 16. Industrial Revolution <ul><ul><li>Define exact process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Run 1000’s times </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Initial investment spread over many identical copies </li></ul></ul>Mass Production 1800 1900 2000 2010
  17. 17. Assembly Line <ul><li>Henry Ford </li></ul>Mass Production 1800 1900 2000 2010
  18. 18. <ul><li>Frederick Winslow Taylor </li></ul><ul><li>Time and Motion Studies </li></ul><ul><li>Apply mass production techniques to office work </li></ul>Routine Work 1800 1900 2000 2010
  19. 19. Taiichi Ohno <ul><li>Mass customization </li></ul><ul><li>Excess production is waste </li></ul><ul><li>Lean & Pull-Based </li></ul><ul><li>Responsive to Change </li></ul>Just-in-Time Kanban Mass Production 1800 1900 2000 2010
  20. 20. <ul><li>A knowledge worker is “someone who knows more about his or her job than anyone else in the organization.” - Peter F Drucker </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge worker jobs </li></ul><ul><li>are unique </li></ul>Knowledge Work 1800 1900 2000 2010
  21. 21. Mass Production Routine Work Knowledge Work Just-in-Time Kanban Predictable Unpredictable Office Work Manufacturing
  22. 22. <ul><li>Knowledge is different from all other resources. It makes itself constantly obsolete, so that today's advanced knowledge is tomorrow's ignorance. </li></ul>Knowledge Work And the knowledge that matters is subject to rapid and abrupt change … - Peter F Drucker Knowledge worker jobs change
  23. 23. <ul><li>From 28% to 50% of all workers are Knowledge Workers </li></ul><ul><li>This number is growing </li></ul><ul><li>The most highly paid segment </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge work is the key area of growth in the economy. </li></ul><ul><li>Tom Davenport </li></ul><ul><li>Harvard Business Review </li></ul>Knowledge Work
  24. 24. System to system Processes Routine Human Processes Knowledge Worker Processes Value $ $$ $$$ More Predictable Less Predictable Routine Work Knowledge Work 2010  2020+ 1990  2000+ 2000  2010+ Business Process Spectrum Easier to Implement Harder to Implement
  25. 25. <ul><li>Within organizations, knowledge workers tend to be closely aligned with the organization's growth prospects. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge workers in management roles come up with new strategies. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge workers in R&D and engineering create new products. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge workers in marketing package products and services in ways that appeal to customers. </li></ul><ul><li>Without knowledge workers there would be no new products and services and no growth. -Tom Davenport </li></ul>
  26. 26. BPM is a Mature Market <ul><li>BPM is </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Making a precise definition of the work to be done </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Investing a lot in set up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recoup investment by running process thousands of times. </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>BPM is Mass Production! </li></ul><ul><li>It only works if the process is predictable . </li></ul><ul><li> . </li></ul>Routine Work
  28. 28. New Approach Needed <ul><li>BPM is based on the idea that you can: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Predict and define a fixed process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implement an automated process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ROI comes from scaling up, repeatability </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To handle knowledge work, a fundamentally different approach is needed. We call that: </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptive Case Management </li></ul>
  29. 29. Scientific Management vs. Lean <ul><li>Taylorism – Scientific Management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mass production ideas applied to market place </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Large initial cost to developing processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ROI only after many identical, repeated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decreases an organization ability to respond </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Separation of “brains” from the “brawn” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Classical BPM is based on these principles </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lean and Agile Processes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Process is not center! Case data instead! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No process is carved in stone at any time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Like TPS, tap the worker for improvement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Like Kanban, holistic view on production, instead of isolated processes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adaptive Case Management follows this </li></ul></ul>Process Data Data Process
  30. 30. Modeling Created ahead of time by specialist crafted to automatically respond to many situations. Created when needed, by the person doing the work. Manually adjusted for changing situations. For Routine Work For Knowledge Work
  31. 31. <ul><li>Creative and innovative forms of business processes cannot be predefined or &quot;flowcharted&quot; in advance. </li></ul><ul><li>They are &quot;organic&quot;. </li></ul><ul><li>That is to say, they represent &quot;emergent processes&quot; that change not only their state, but also their structure as they are born, and then grow and evolve. </li></ul><ul><li>Process definition is an intrinsic part of the process itself, and this happens continually throughout the life of the process. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Peter Fingar, 2007 </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>“ Knowledge worker productivity is the biggest of the 21st century management challenges . In the developed countries it is their first survival requirement. </li></ul><ul><li>In no other way can the developed countries hope to maintain themselves, let alone to maintain their leadership and their standards of living.” - Peter F Drucker </li></ul>
  33. 33. Mastering the Unpredictable The new book on how Adaptive Case Management will revolutionize the way that knowledge workers get things done. This was an excerpt from the book: