About the Productivity of Knowledge Workers

blue collar workerIn the 19th Century The Blue Collar Workers were replaced by Machines operated by White Collar Workers.

When the White Collar Workers were replaced by the Software of the Programmers a new Type of Work was created, called Knowledge Work.

It is very difficult to measure the Productivity of the Knowledge Worker.

In this Blog I will show you that the Problem of the Productivity of the Knowledge Worker can be solved when you Realize that the Business Cycle is a Self-Referring Object (A Fractal).

Work is a Process and is part of a Business Cycle. Work has a Result and it uses Resources.

When the Result of the Process is accomplished somebody has to Use the Results. The process of Use is called Consuming.

When a Requirement is Transformed into a Result and the Result is Sold (Sales) and Used somebody starts to Think, gets Ideas, about Adapting the Requirements and the Cycle of Work is Closed.

When the Requirements are Satisfied we call the process Effective. The process is Efficient when Waste is minimized.

In the Business Cycle the Four “Organs” of the Human, Control, Desire (Consume), the Emotions (E-value-ate) and the Imagination (Create) are Dominating a Phase. The task of the fifth Organ, Conscioussness, The Monitor, is to Balance the Four Organs to make sure that one Human Faculty is not dominating the Cycle. The Business Cycle is Self-Referring.

This means that we are able to apply the Business Cycle in every part of the Business Cycle. A Salesman makes the Requirements of a Sales Plan, Executes a Sales Plan and Improves his Sales Cycle when he gets new Ideas about the effect of his efforts.

What we see is the process of Specialization resulting in the Division of Labour.

Every time when a new specialization of the Business Cycle is created the Level of the Process changes and the Speed of the Movement of the Cycle, the Periodicity, changes. Every Time when a new Division of Labour occurs the Business Cycle Speeds Up.

The Division of Labour not only Accelerates the Business Cycle. The New Roles in the Cycle behave like an Independent Unit. They want to Dominate Cycles on other Levels and most of all they want to expand their Activities.

The Personal Assistant who was helping the Manager to Hire and Fire Personnel transforms into a Human Resource Management Department.

At some point in time the specialized Units disconnect from the Whole and start a Life of their Own. Designers start Design Bureaus. Teachers unite in a School. Scientists cluster in Universities.

All of them are still payed by the Primary Processes in Society (Agriculture (Food), Industry, ..) but the Secundary (or higher order) processes don’t want to hear that. They think they are the Most Important Processes in Society.

When the new Wholes are created they start to Divide again and again. The Result of the Split of the Work Cycles, the endless Division of Labour, is an Incomprehensible, not Effective, Inefficient Network of Competing Work Processes Clustered in many Institutions.

The Business Cycle is Breathing.

When the process of Splitting has gone too far, the process of Union and Integration starts.

Splitting, Expansion, occurs when the Economic Cycle is going Up.

Integration, starts when the Economic Cycle is going Down.

We are now again in an Integration Phase which means that many secundary and higher order processes will be destroyed until the Essence of Society is visible again.

What is a Knowledge Worker?

A Blue Collar Worker works in a Factory and is doing Manual Labour. The people who are part of the Staff Departments of the Factory (Sales, Planning, Design,) are called White Collar Workers. White Collar Workers are more Educated as the Blue Collar Workers. They Earn more money and are doing Intellectual Work. The Knowledge Worker Uses and produce Knowledge. Examples are: Programmers, Systems Analysts, Lawyers, Teachers and Scientists. Examples of processes are: planning, acquiring, searching, analyzing, organizing, storing, programming, distributing and marketing.

What is Productivity?

The Concept of Productivity implies that an organization works as a Physical System with variables and their inter-relationships amenable to precise definitions. The basic reliance is on the acceptance of a Stimulus-Response model of Causality that an Input causes an Output.

Productivity is the ratio of Outputs (Goods and Services) divided by one or more Inputs (Labor hours, FTEs, Capital, Expenses). Using money as a measure of value makes it possible to compare dissimilar inputs and outputs.

Productivity is only applicable in the Production Phase of the Business Cycle. In the other Phases other Measures are used like Customer Satisfaction in the Consuming Phase. Customer Satisfaction is a measure of the Effectiveness of a Production phase.

The Business Cycle is a Self-Referencial Object. Every Phase of the Business Cycle can be divided in the Phases of the Business Cycle. This means that the Productivity of the Knowledge Worker can be Measured when he is Producing Something (A Design, A Research Document, A Plan).

If the Knowledge Worker is not Producing anything there is nothing to Consume in the next Phase. In this case the Knowledge Worker is not Effective. If this happens the  Knowledge Worker has to Reflect, Use his Consciousness, to detect his Added Value to the Whole he is part of.

To Define the Productivity of a Blue of White Collar Worker, the Process has to be Standardized. To standardize a process you have to define the Flow of the Components (Bill of Materials) and of course the Product, the Result.

If the Process is Standardized it is very easy to get rid of the Waste in the Process (Process Improvement). When this happens the process becomes more Efficient (now called Sustainable).

Standardization results in a Decrease of the Workers, a Lowering of the Waste (Costs) and an Increase in Rules. The Process Rules are implemented in Machines and Software.

What are Knowledge Workers Really Doing?

The Designers and Implementers of the Rules, the Knowledge Workers, are the people who are Destroying the Work of the Blue and White Collar Workers in a Factory. They are also the Creators of New Factories (Business Development) and connect Old Factories (Value Chain Integration).

How to Measure the Productivity of Knowledge Workers.

Knowledge Workers are part of the Business Cycle. They Analyze Work Processes to minimize Waste, Evaluate the Results of the Consuming of the Result of a Work Process (the Product) , Imagine and Test new Ways to Satisfy the Needs of the Consumer, Design New Work Processes or Change Existent Work Processes.

The Business Cycle is Self-Referring. This means that you can organize the Work Processes of the Knowledge Workers just like the Work processes they Analyze.

If you measure the Productivity of the Work Process of the Blue and White Collar Workers in a certain way, it must be possible to measure the Productivity of the Knowledge Worker in the same way. Knowledge Workers also have to make plans and have to evaluate their own products to Learn and to Improve their Performance.

This approach has a great advantage. If you treat the Knowledge Workers just the way you treat the Blue and White Collar Workers they will understand that some day the Controller will Standardize Knowledge Management, Reduce the Waste, Focus the Process on a Clearly Defined Target, Eliminate the Knowledge Workers and Replace them by a Very Intelligent and Creative Software Program.

These Software-Programs are already there (Expert Systems, Artificial Intelligence, Pattern Recognition) and are constantly improving their behavior. One of the most interesting examples is Wolfram Alpha.

When the Fractal Pattern Recognizers are fully operational the Knowledge Workers will Realize that the White and Blue Collar Workers are also Humans. They will know that every Human has the ability and the need to Control his own Process of Life.

They will see that Every Human has Desires, Emotions and Imagination.

They will become Aware (Consciouss) of the Fact that every Human is Able to Improve his Own Work Processes.

fractal

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