Managing Knowledge Workers’ Work
An average enterprise plays a major emphasis on the utilisation of people on their projects and initiatives. The focus is on the proper utilisation of team members to ensure that every minute is well accounted for and sometimes, this leads to the problem of over-utilisation. Rather than focusing on utilisation, the major emphasis should be around the productivity, quality, and good use of the time of the highly competent team members. The real questions to ask are the following:
· Are the delivery team members utilised most effectively?
· Are the competent delivery team members productively delivering value?
· Are the delivery team members embedding/building quality into their deliverable?
· Are the delivery team members working on the priority items at a given time?
Rather than focusing on utilisation, the major emphasis should be around the productivity, quality, and good use of the time of the highly competent team members.
Most often than not, the problem is that the leaders do not often agree on what matters. There is a vertical management relationship within organisations and a conflicting horizontal flow of value cutting across different departments. Consequently, mixed messages filter to the cross-functional delivery team members. And of course, this may lead to the development teams focusing on non-value adding activities. This problem is therefore inherent in the hierarchical format of the organisational chart. While development teams are composed of members with diverse specialised skills, they are managed in silos by different leaders with contradictory ideas about what the definition of real value is.
A good place to start is to break the silo, if possible, organisations should reduce the hierarchy between the team members and management. A flat organisation structure would help to reduce problems relating to coordination and communication as well as improve the conflicting messages flowing down to the delivery teams. Also, the leaders need to agree on the priority of initiatives and what the definition of real value is for each priority initiative, to remove the ambiguity that comes with the work which flows to the development teams. By doing this, a lot of wastes would naturally be removed in the value stream.
Most times, no one is managing the value; they are too busy managing the people.
To get the most of the smart knowledge workers, there should be a paradigm shift. A shift from only managing knowledge workers, to managing the value they create as well. Most times, no one is managing the value; they are too busy managing the people. The activities of knowledge workers should lead to value realisation. This value is to the customer. Value creation should start with the customer and should end with the customer.