Friday, September 6, 2019

Lean Quote: Knowledge Workers - Work With Their Heads, Not Their Hands

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"A man is not paid for having a head and hands, but for using them." — Elbert Hubbard

Coined by management expert Peter Drucker in 1959, the term knowledge workers refers to people whose main capital is to think for a living. They work with their heads, not their hands, to plan, analyze, organize, test, program, distribute, search, market, or otherwise generally contribute to the transformation of information in the knowledge economy.

Drucker asserted quite prophetically before his death in 2005 that increasing the productivity of knowledge workers was the most important contribution managers needed to make in the 21st century.

That leads to the million-dollar question: How do you manage them? How do you manage highly paid, independent thinkers who like to control the process of their own work and don't like to be managed, and who own their organization's means of innovating, developing, and producing?

The same way as everyone else. You treat them as valued human beings.


This obviously will require strong leadership. The good news is that to lead the smartest people in the building, you don't need to be smarter than them.

If you find yourself managing the smartest people in the room, remember this: The universal human need of every knowledge worker is not unlike that of the rest of us. It's to perform meaningful work, be respected, collaborate in a tight-knit community of excellence and shared values, and ultimately make an impact for good in the world. And the biggest aspiration for their leaders is a matter of the heart: to make their people better workers and better human beings.

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare

No comments:

Post a Comment