Peter Drucker conceived the term knowledge workers almost 60 years ago.
In his book: The Landmarks of Tomorrow, the acclaimed management consultant proposed that “The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution will be its knowledge workers.”
- A knowledge worker is a (mostly) technically-minded individual who works primarily with information. Their main asset is (surprisingly) knowledge!
- Common skills exhibited by a knowledge worker include: analysing data, understanding trends and practicing convergent thinking.
- knowledge workers excel in: science, law, medicine, architecture, technology and many more industries.
Behavioural science author Daniel Pink considered the progression of the wisdom worker in his book: A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule The World. He stated that future employees would require accomplished storytelling skills.
- A wisdom worker is a (mostly) creative minded individual, who works primarily in emotional creativeness.
- Their main skill is their ability to weave engaging narrative into their work. Engaging customers is a necessity in the information era as our attention spans have dwindled.
- Roles where wisdom workers shine include: advertisers, web content managers, social media marketers, public relation officers, marketing executives and many more.
3 KEY BENEFITS OF THE KNOWLEDGE WORKER head with cogs turning inside
- The Knowledge Economy is Booming!
Based on intellectual capital, the knowledge economy is currently flourishing. Investing in company training and further education boosts company assets. The more knowledgeable the employee, the more valuable they are.
Consider Captain Jack Sparrow and his mob of unruly pirates. Sure, they could seize control of a ship and loot its gold. Easy money! But what if they seized control of Apple’s head office? The gold would be in the heads of the software engineers and the app designers, etc.
Knowledge workers create tangible assets. This means they generate wealth for their companies. The power is inside them!
- They Are Technical in Nature
Software designer, cyber security, cloud computing, app designer, database administrator, web developer… the list of technological jobs is endless! With knowledge workers possessing technical mindsets, they are more in demand than ever before!
- They Don’t Need Wisdom to Survive!
Interestingly, wisdom requires knowledge to survive, but knowledge does not require wisdom.
Whilst wisdom workers incorporate experience, judgement and compassion, they also have to consider knowledge. Without knowledge, wisdom wouldn’t have any grounding in reality. This would render it meaningless. Thinking in these terms, the knowledge workers can pursue their work autonomously.
This is a big bonus for companies. After all, wisdom workers may have to research certain aspects that knowledge workers will already be knowledgeable in.
It can also save a business money on training. The depth and scope of a wisdom worker may be vast, but it might mean they are less acquainted with certain topics.
3 KEY BENEFITS OF THE WISDOM WORKER head showing the synapses in someone’s brain firing as they dream up a Training Needs Analysis
- Technology Cannot Make Wisdom Redundant
Consider the film Terminator 2: Judgement Day. In a famous scene, the young John Connor attempts to programme the T-800 robot with humanisms such as informal speech.
John becomes frustrated when the robot doesn’t acquire these behaviorisms. Thankfully, in most office environments we don’t have to deal with time-travelling cybernetic organisms. (Please speak to HR if in doubt.)
The principle remains. There are anthropological behaviours that technology will never understand, or be able to articulate. Technology may be better, faster and stronger than us and it may be making many jobs redundant, but it’ll will never be more human. In fact, in this digital era, we seem to crave human warmth more than ever.
This is where the wisdom worker gets to weave their humanistic magic!
- Emotional Intelligence is Big Business
When emotional intelligence is harnessed, you get a depth that cannot be replicated by technology (unless you count Siri!).
Now we have data on tap, one of the most effective ways to stand out is personalisation. The more tailored the content is, the more engaged the learner will feel. For example, our Academy LMS allows the learner to personalise their profiles just like you would with social media.
Another effective aspect of wisdom work is the use of narrative. For instance, you can weave dramatic and compelling story-lines into your training programmes. This is important as our brains are wired to remember stories over data.