Posts Tagged 'knowledge work'

Should We Reintroduce Computer-free Activity into the Workplace?

Here is a strange idea: reduce the use of computers in the workplace. Huhh?!?… Bear with me and read on… Computers and Stress Back in the nineties management at my Intel campus realized that non-stop computer use was causing health damage in the form of RSI (repetitive stress injuries – remember all those weird wrist bandages?). To address it, we implemented structured “stretching sessions” where everyone stopped typing and came together to do directed exercises with music and fun. Today we see that non-stop computer use is causing health damage in other forms – and it may be time to.. Read more

Why Cutting Corners in Risky for Knowledge Workers

Posted on December 24th, 2012 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

Cutting corners: the special case of Knowledge Work The Wiktionary gives the following usage example  for “Cutting Corners”: The guy who built the fence cut corners when sinking the posts, and the fence fell over in the last storm. Not surprising: when we think of the risks of cutting corners, we naturally turn to construction and manufacturing, where any use of substandard materials or processes can easily lead to catastrophic failure. But in Knowledge Work, that wide domain many of us spend our careers in, cutting corners can be just as risky, and the outcomes can be harmful in insidious.. Read more

If Knowledge is Power, Does it Corrupt?

Posted on November 1st, 2012 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

Does knowledge corrupt? The phrase “Knowledge is Power” has been around since biblical times, and is no doubt well founded. The phrase “Power Corrupts” is newer, and just as true. But what if we put these two together? Does it follow that “Knowledge Corrupts”? More specifically: does knowledge, in excess, corrupt personal or organizational effectiveness? I can see a number of mechanisms that may make it so. Hoarding of knowledge to secure power One way that knowledge corrupts is when its owners fight to retain the power it represents. This is well known as a concern when you try to.. Read more

How to make programmers efficient

Posted on May 6th, 2012 · Posted in Organizational Solutions

I was talking to a manager of IT systems in a financial organization, and she told me of an impressive step she’d taken to improve effectiveness. She had a group of programmers working for her, and they were suffering – as do we all – from frequent interruptions. So she removed the (landline) telephones from their rooms! She also made it known that these people were not to be interrupted by other means, and thereby allowed them to do what they were there for – write code. The results were very evident: efficiency in this team had visibly improved relative.. Read more

What would Socrates think of Google?

Posted on December 8th, 2011 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

I was discussing with a college student I’ve been advising whether it was a good or a bad thing that Google makes access to answers so easy. To my surprise, she opined that it’s a bad thing – because people who use Google to answer a question are more likely to forget the answer they find, whereas if they have to think the problem through and discover the answer for themselves they will remember it in the long term. An interesting insight from a Gen Y. But what struck me as remarkable was the fact that this is not a.. Read more

He’s working!

Posted on July 26th, 2011 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

A relative of a distinguished Professor told me that he had the habit of sitting in an armchair at home with his eyes closed. When someone would come in and try to converse with him, the Prof would say “Quiet! I’m working!” As indeed he was… to sit quietly and think is a key element at the heart of an academic’s job; they need to disconnect from all distractions and THINK. One must note that this particular scholar is now in his eighties, so his habits had evolved in the middle of the previous century. I wonder whether the professors.. Read more

The one-page principle

Posted on March 18th, 2011 · Posted in Organizational Solutions

There is a quote attributed to Mark Ardis:  “A specification [or a design, a procedure, a test plan] that will not fit on one page of 8.5-by-11 inch paper cannot be understood“. This is called “The one-page principle”. Other than being a snappy quote, this is something to consider seriously. A significant aspect of the email overload people suffer is carried in the attachments; indeed, my first inkling that email was becoming a problem, back around 1994, was when a senior manager in my workplace had declared that he refuses to read any email that has any attachments at all… Read more

An overlooked, sure-fire way to regain work time

Posted on January 29th, 2011 · Posted in Individual Solutions, Organizational Solutions

I was talking to a client who – like most of us – needed more hours in the day, and he complained that part of the problem was that he was required to generate long reports, and it took him hours and hours just to type them in. So I asked him, how does he type? Turns out he uses two fingers to peck at the keyboard. I asked him, why not ten? Why doesn’t he touch type? Of course he couldn’t touch type, nor was he planning to learn to; and neither do almost all the knowledge workers I.. Read more

In the wrong hands, IT tools can reduce productivity!

Posted on March 11th, 2010 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

The argument about Information Technology’s benefit to the enterprise seems silly: of course having computers, both in isolation and on a network, has added huge value to industry and business; indeed, they are as pivotal a game changer as the steam engine, the printing press, or (dare I say it?) the wheel. And yet, the discussion is legitimate if you frame it correctly: yes, computers are good in general, but is any specific, given additional IT tool of benefit? In many cases this depends on who the organization assigns it to. You’ve probably noticed this when visiting a doctor at.. Read more

Knowledge Management Forum off to a good start

Posted on February 22nd, 2010 · Posted in Off-topic

Spent the day at the inaugural unconference of the  Israel Knowledge Management forum. This forum started  some years ago as a very informal gathering of interested professionals on the front porch of founder Yigal Chamish, and  is now making the tricky transition into a formal non-profit association. I was pleased to observe a well-attended conference, with some 130 attendees and many interesting parallel sessions. There was much networking, including via twitter (#KMISR10); I saw many familiar faces and many new ones. Importantly, attendees included seasoned veterans and young new members, and representation from organizations of every size, flavor and sector… Read more