Monday, February 14, 2011

Essential Readings For Knowledge Workers



"Results-Based Management – The Key To Flexible Work"
  • Let’s face it, the real reason telecommuting and other flexibility programs haven’t caught on is because fundamentally, managers don’t trust their employees to work untethered...Whether your employees are down the hall or thousands of miles away, if you’re not managing by results, you really don’t know who’s working and who isn’t.
  • Research shows that what employees of all age groups want is the flexibility to determine for themselves where, when, and how they work.
  • Demographic, cultural, economic, and technological realities have forever changed the nature of work. Leading change agents agree, companies that haven’t culturally adopted that results are what matter will be chewing the dust of those that have.
"Smart Work? Making It Happen" by Anne Marie McEwan (PDF)
  • Knowledge about smart working and making the transition to new ways of working, including practical tactics and theoretical perspectives, is widely available but overlooked in practice
  • People participate in shaping their own realities...It is more possible than ever for us to influence and shape our working environments, our experience of work and of each other.
  • Although people are not prisoners of organisational systems and processes, the pull towards the status quo is strong. Existing knowledge is useless until it is experimented with and applied through ‘chaotic action.
  • The second wave of smart working builds on what we know from work philosophies associated with lean, quality and agile manufacturing – based as they are on collaboration, problemsolving and continuous improvement.
  • All knowledge and capabilities, not just those of elites, need to be nurtured and mobilised in today’s hyper-competitive, globally-connected economy.
  • A significant difference now is that continuous improvement has the potential to expand outside the boundaries of the organisation and become networked collective untelligence.
  • The opportunity for widespread knowledge sourcing, creating and disseminating is phenomenal.
"Global CIO: How Gen Y Can Kill Collaboration Projects" by Chris Murphy, InformationWeek
  • Adding collaboration tools just because millennials expect it is a mistake
  • Instead, IT needs to forget about placating younger employees, and focus on the most critical moments of engagement in companies
  • Global competition leads to more specialization, which puts emphasis on expertise and collaboration among those experts along the supply chain.
  • We're coming up on a huge, second wave of IT investment, this time around collaboration technologies.
"The connected company" by Dave Gray:
  • It’s time to think about what companies really are, and to design with that in mind. Companies are not so much machines as complex, dynamic, growing systems. As they get larger, acquiring smaller companies, entering into joint ventures and partnerships, and expanding overseas, they become “systems of systems” that rival nation-states in scale and reach.
  • Cities are large, complex, systems, but we don’t really try to control them...but we can manage them well. And if we start to look at companies as complex systems instead of machines, we can start to design and manage them for productivity instead of continuously hovering on the edge of collapse.
  • As companies add people, productivity shrinks. But as cities add people, productivity actually grows.
"Rethinking knowledge work: A strategic approach" by Thomas H. Davenport:
  • It’s time for companies to develop a strategy for knowledge work—one that not only provides a clearer view of the types of information that workers need to do their jobs but also recognizes that the application of technology across the organization must vary considerably, according to the tasks different knowledge workers perform.
  • Leaders must pursue IT and productivity opportunities at the right level of granularity. While it might be tempting to think that a given approach will work well for an entire organization, reality is rarely so tidy.
  • To move the needle in a specific business unit or function, it’s not enough to launch a set of company-wide initiatives or to count on a piece of software. Instead, leaders of knowledge workers should understand the key differences among them and tailor solutions to these peculiarities.
"Sharing Secrets to Innovate More Profitably" by Tom Simonite:
  • If you bring outside things into your organization, you reduce your time to market, because you can work with things that have already undergone some level of development. You can also share some of the costs of development.
  • In the other direction, sharing ideas and technologies from your own business can open up new revenue streams—for example, if you license something or spin it off into a new enterprise.
  • One successful strategy is keeping a great idea to yourself for a while and then letting it be used by others only when you've moved onto the next one. I call that turning competitors into happy followers.
  • A company's R&D is actually a monopoly: it's the only one that can supply new ideas and technology to the business. The business unit is a monopsony, a single buyer, the only buyer of new ideas and technologies...Open innovation breaks down those monopolies and monopsonies and introduces competition for both sides.
"Gossip, Collaboration, and Performance in Distributed Teams" by Larry R. Irons:
  • Effective collaboration really requires proactively sharing information with those it affects, not simply reacting to information requests.
  • People are reluctant to share uncertain or sensitive information in formal meetings, especially when they think they alone possess it.
  • Shared experience, not just shared information, is fundamental to the social networks underlying collaboration and community.
  • Comfort with one another is needed to develop a shared experience where trust increases the likelihood that needed information is shared, or that the need itself is anticipated.

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