:: urbansheep (urbansheep) wrote,
:: urbansheep

[ B ] The Distributed Mind—Smart People and Smart Organizations

Нашла на винте книжку. The Distributed Mind—Smart People and Smart Organizations. Похоже, что весьма актуальную. Вообще, удивительно, как много свежего и нового материала в текстах десятилетней давности оказывается.

How This Book Is Organized

In Chapter 1 we define knowledge work and highlight some of its challenges by looking at the Life Flight Network, a helicopter ambulance rescue service operating out of Portland, Oregon. Multiple case examples in this chapter will demonstrate how knowledge work differs from physical work and illustrate five defining characteristics.

Chapter 2 dispels the myth that knowledge work is limited to the office, hospital, or university. It is true that the shift to knowledge work is becoming obvious in the dramatic rise of service jobs (most of which are knowledge work) and the related decline of manufacturing ones (which have traditionally been physical work). But even within manufacturing organizations—long the bastions of manual labor—most people are shifting toward knowledge work as technologies and worker responsibilities become more sophisticated.

Chapter 3 shows how teams differ from groups and introduces the three characteristics required for contemporary teams: clear purpose, shared understanding of the purpose, and commitment paradigm culture. We illustrate how these teams differ from the traditional organizations of the past by looking at knowledge work teams such as the Boeing 777 product development team. Using examples from several companies, we discuss self-directed work team concepts and identify the four most common types of teams.

In Chapter 4 we illustrate the differences between physical and knowledge work teams by looking at the Hewlett-Packard SAS team, the Corning Admin team, and the New Brunswick Telecom Service team, identifying several characteristics that distinguish knowledge work teams from other teams. In particular, we highlight the differences in the way multiskilling is used. We introduce what we call “vertical” (for knowledge teams) and “horizontal” (for physical work teams) multiskilling.

Chapter 5 describes the processes many organizations are using to redesign traditional functionally based or silo-type operations into knowledge work teams. It then illustrates a popular organization type we call the learning lattice by analyzing a Port of Seattle and a Hewlett-Packard operation in more detail.

In Chapter 6 we introduce an organic metaphor to better understand knowledge teams. Examining an Amdahl customer service team, we show how the metaphor offers a different perspective on the most fundamental elements of traditional team theory. We suggest, for example, that knowledge-based organisms don’t need to be reengineered, they need to evolve. They require constant feeding and nurturing—not controlling policies and procedures; information—not budgets, performance appraisals, or staff meetings.

In Chapter 7 we discuss the most difficult, but increasingly common, type of knowledge team: the virtual knowledge team (VKT). We look at these teams in Delco Electronics, HP, and a consulting company. Unlike regular knowledge teams with constant membership, VKTs are part-time, short-term teams with shifting membership from multiple locations. We consider the importance of several techniques designed by companies like Hewlett-Packard to make VKTs more effective.

Chapter 8 addresses a critical challenge for knowledge work: fostering innovation and creativity. We introduce some classic personal and organizational creativity-enhancing techniques from Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park experience. We also show that the stereotypical picture of a “mad scientist” creating alone in a hidden lab is not always an accurate portrayal of the creative process. We discuss the importance of public learning techniques that generate genuine innovation.

In Chapter 9 we describe important keys to mastering the challenges of information acquisition and transfer. Just as the human circulatory system employs a myriad of pathways to provide the body with blood, so knowledge workers need to create numerous ways to channel information through their work system. But just as too much blood draining unchecked inside the body can be life-threatening, so too can too much information flowing through the system. We discuss how to avoid the threat of unhelpful or unnecessary information clogging the system.

Chapter 10 introduces helpful concepts for leading knowledge work teams as a team leader. We also examine how knowledge workers must ultimately practice self-leadership. The chapter discusses the leader’s role as boundary manager, and we illustrate seven important leadership competencies.

Chapter 11 describes wellness practices for knowledge workers and knowledge work teams. We discuss the value and techniques of planned team improvement activities. The emphasis in this chapter is on how to prevent team illness through team wellness approaches such as creating operating guidelines, distributing work assignments fairly, and engaging in regular work-related team-building activities.

In Chapter 12 we explore how technology aids knowledge work. We look at a Xerox service team to understand the importance of technology. Using a cyborg as a metaphor for a technically enhanced organization, this chapter will discuss how cyborganizations are living organisms supported by technology. We discuss technologies that facilitate the work of knowledge teams, including groupware, interactive communication devices, and joint decision-making and problem-solving aids.

In the last chapter we look to the future. What are the implications of knowledge work for corporations? How are knowledge teams seeking to ready themselves for the twenty-first century? To answer these questions we will discuss six key work trends: automation of physical work, elimination of traditional jobs, empowerment, knowledge team predominance, workplace flexibility, and the increase of virtual knowledge teams.


For the first time in human history, our contributions in the workplace come more from our minds than from our muscles. The ability to use and create knowledge may now be the single greatest asset in the workplace—an asset that allows people to do something really significant. This age is fraught with both challenges and opportunities. Not the least of these challenges is how to work effectively in the postindustrial era. Smart people and smart organizations will help us meet this challenge.

We have entered the age of the distributed mind.

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