Moving classes online back in March triggered a new emphasis on the notion that the knowledge work we do is better and more easily done when you get it out of your head and somewhere in front of you where you can see it and improve it. This is a position I’ve come to only after a long process of fighting the notion in practice and gradually coming around to that notion and working to update and adapt my own work habits and practices.
Practicing what you preach is always much harder than the preaching part. As part of convincing myself to work harder on improving my practices, I went back and gathered up some of the key moments in the evolution of my thinking if only to shame myself into more practice and less preaching. It occurs to me that assembling these pieces in one place may be useful to others as well.
- Review – Sound advice on managing collaboration in teams – There’s a particular point in this piece about evidence that teams charged with creating new ideas always seem to revisit and replan their efforts somewhere near the midpoint of their work.
- Balancing Uniqueness and Uniformity in Knowledge Work – Most of what we have to say about work emphasizes uniformity and predictability. My Toyota Prius and yours should be substantially identical. Knowledge work is the opposite; the work in only valuable to the extent that it is new and different
- Managing the visibility of knowledge work – In a technology dominated economy, knowledge work is effectively invisible and that makes it harder to manage.
- Observable work – more on knowledge work visibility – They say you can’t manage it unless you measure it. If you can’t see it, how can you even measure it?
- The 80 IQ point move: knowledge work as craft – Stop thinking in terms of factories and start thinking in terms of artisan workshops
- Crumbling pyramids; knowledge work, leverage, and technology – Organizations built around knowledge work are also built on apprenticeship models both functionally and economically, Technology is making apprenticeship harder to manage and sustain.
- Doing and Managing Knowledge Work: TUG2010 Keynote Reflections – This was the place where I first started to talk about the notion of “observable work”
- Showing your work- intermediate knowledge work artifacts – We need to move beyond the notion of deliverables and make the processes of knowledge work visible throughout
- Bring back working papers – Paper intensive work practices threw off useful intermediate artifacts. Now we need to design those intermediate artifacts
- Effective Executives Are Design Thinkers – We tend to think of design as a specialty skill. I think it’s become an essential skill for anyone doing or leading knowledge work.
- Communications Divides Within the Organization; Look to Homer – Here’s some rumination on a distinction first proposed by a Jesuit priest named Walter Ong. His thesis was that writing gave us a new way thinking quite different from the oral thinking that represented much of early civilization.