6 Reasons for Building for The Concept Worker

Raymond Blijd
Written by Raymond Blijd
on November 16, 2011

Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future contains a description of a new age: the Conceptual Age which features the Concept Worker. This is different from what is called a Knowledge Worker, a term introduced by Peter Drucker. Publishers traditionally serve the knowledge workers: people who work primarily with information and those who develop and use knowledge in the workplace. So, if the next wave of customers will be Concept Workers, what tools would they need?
 

Concept Workers
Concept Workers would hopefully enjoy working with a tool like Concept Zepp (Solving Social and Research Online) which I introduced in an earlier post. It aims to reward researching and sharing information between peers to expose expertise; a personal knowledge management application that will help them advance their knowledge.

 

6 rules of knowledge management
First we need to understand what knowledge management is before we can make a tool for it. Unfortunately there is no industry consensus. One blogger stopped counting knowledge management definitions at 54, after which the blog went offline. As with a lot of complex problems they are often easily solved by explaining them to a 4 year-old. Keeping that in mind, I found this definition in Rules of knowledge management:

How children share – Davenport’s Kindergarten Rationale:

  1. You share with the friends you trust
  2. You share when you’re sure you’ll get something in return
  3. Your toys are more special than anyone else’s
  4. You share when the teacher tells you to, until she turns her back
  5. When toys are scarce, there’s less sharing
  6. Once yours get taken, you never share again
Translating this to a concept worker network it might look something like the image below:

In short: we get smarter by reading and enriching content other people have produced. By sharing our own we have the chance to make others benefit equally. But we only share if we’ll get something in return.

 

6 reasons social is important
In essence, knowledge sharing is a fundamental part of being a social human being and a member of society. I’ve gather a few arguments which indicate why social is important:

  1. There is a growing awareness among most major players that they must tap into social networks. For instance Google is reportedly betting the company on GooglePlus and CNN made a sizable investment to acquire technology to incorporate a more personalized experience for its users.
  2. The main impetus is to extract information from the social activity that occurs on such networks, and to use that information to make better decisions about search results and other targeted services. From: How Social is Changing the Search Industry
  3. Activity streams in social networks facilitate serendipity and informal learning.
  4. They help flatten organisations and traditionally hierarchical structures.
  5. They inspire an open knowledge sharing culture. From: 5 Reasons Why Activity Streams Will Save You From Information Overload
  6. Corporations like law firms want to create a social platform for better knowledge flow because they are struggling with email filing and knowledge management as a whole. From: What’s New in Legal KM?

6 reasons for building tools for the concept workers
Finally, here are 6 reasons why we should build tools to support concept and knowledge workers:

  1. Knowledge workers understand information as currency. Sharing is a core strategy for success even in a corporate context. This can bring knowledge workers to the commons.
  2. Their worldview is informed by systems thinking or is polyglot. It’s not informed by a single political ideology.
  3. They understand that influence depends on the ability to persuade, and that choice of language is important.
  4. Knowledge workers can become moderate radicals, meaning they believe that fundamental change is needed.
  5. Their identities are not wrapped up in a single belief system so they have options. Courtesy of: The new knowledge worker
  6. And to add my own: They will always look for and find better ways of advancing their knowledge.

So why don’t we give them a special toy to do just that.

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