The most important, and indeed the truly unique, contribution of management in the 20th century was the fifty-fold increase in the productivity of the manual worker in manufacturing.
The most important contribution management needs to make in 21st century is similarly to increase the productivity of knowledge work and the knowledge worker.
The most valuable assets of the 20th-century company were its production equipment. The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution, whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity.
Peter Drucker, Management Challenges of the 21st Century
You’ve probably read this quote before. If not this exact quote, then something like it.
If you are like most people that I talk to, you probably agree with it.
Then what’s the problem?
If we agree that knowledge and knowledge workers are our most important assets, why do so many firms have such a hard time leveraging those assets?
Actually that’s not going far enough.
Why do firms prioritize the urgent but tactical issues of the day over the development of knowledge and knowledge workers ?
I’m not going to write about that today.
But I will tell you that I just read Multipliers by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown.
Their take is that there are two types of people – diminishers and multipliers. Diminishers are primarily concerned with being perceived as geniuses. Multipliers would rather be perceived as genius makers.
I think that many of the answers to my questions above can be found in this book.
It seems to me that a multiplier/genius maker mindset is a fundamental precondition to effective organizational learning and knowledge management.
(That’s my way of saying that I think you should read the book.)