Author: Casey John O’Donnell

Key Question for Knowledge Work: What is the Task?

In his book Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter Drucker asserts that the crucial question for knowledge-worker productivity, and the one most at odds with manual-worker productivity, is: What is the task? Drucker explains that one reason why this question must be asked is because knowledge work, unlike manual work, does not program the […]

Six Factors Determine Knowledge-Worker Productivity

In his book Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter Drucker identified six major factors that determine knowledge-worker productivity:

Knowledge-worker productivity demands that we ask the question: “What is the task?” Knowledge workers themselves must define the task.
It demands that we impose responsibility for their productivity on the individual knowledge workers themselves. Knowledge workers have to […]

What Exactly is Knowledge Work?

We’ve all heard of knowledge work but what exactly is it?  Doesn’t all work require some level of knowledge?  What then distinguishes knowledge work from manual work?
The term “knowledge work” was coined by Peter Drucker in his book Landmarks of Tomorrow which was first published in 1959.  More than half a century later, there still […]

IE: Key to Prosperity in the 20th Century AND the 21st Century?

Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor is credited with being the first person to systematically study manual work and in 1911, he published The Principles of Scientific Management which summarized his findings.  In the introduction to his book, Taylor notes that while people can see and feel the waste of material resources, the larger waste of […]

High Wages AND Low Prices AND Healthy Profits: Fruits of High Productivity

Almost 100 years after Henry Ford’s landmark decision to double the wages of his workers, the Ford Motor Company is in the midst of an “AND not OR” advertising campaign that promotes the idea that customers who buy Ford vehicles don’t have to choose between getting great gas mileage and getting other attractive features like […]

Henry Ford Revs the Engine of Productivity

In what is considered to be one of the greatest business decisions of all time (Harnish et al., 2012), Henry Ford provides a classic example of how productivity can be a force for prosperity.  A force that can make it possible to achieve the seemingly incompatible business goals of reducing prices for customers, increasing wages […]

Productivity – Force for Prosperity or Mayhem?

OK, so here’s the situation.  You manage a business and the owner of the business comes to you and says that you must achieve the following goals:

Reduce prices for customers
Increase the wages of the employees
Improve the profitability of the business

What thoughts would cross your mind?  Perhaps something like, “And, did you want that yesterday?” or […]

Clarion Call to IEs: Let’s Improve Knowledge-Worker Productivity

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 the 21st century is similarly to increase the productivity of knowledge work and knowledge workers. The most valuable […]