Building the Knowledge Worker Organization

Today, I welcome a guest post from Gary Crouch of CS3 Technology in Tulsa, OK. He wrote this article in the wake of the Firm of the Future session at Insights 2010.

Gary’s thoughts are flashes of brilliance and will take some effort to embrace and even more effort to fully understand and implement. His most profound insight is, “My function then as the leader of a team of knowledge workers is to attract intellectual capital to my team.”

Thanks, Gary for allowing me to post this.

Leader: someone who guides or directs others

Team: a number of people organized to function cooperatively as a group

Sometime back I read a book or article describing how the knowledge worker can and should maximize their own potential by playing the part of the hired gun (unfortunately I cannot locate the article to give credit where credit is due). For the knowledge worker, the author explained, it is in their best interest to manage their career path by hiring out to the highest bidder at every opportunistic step. This could be accomplished by promotions within the current organization or moving through various organizations that have an increasingly higher need for his/her services. Either way, the number one priority is to promote their skills and experience to the marketplace.

As I have personally benefited from implementing many ideas shared by Ed Kless in my business, I attend as many of his speaking sessions as possible. At Insights 2010, I heard Ed describe our employees as knowledge workers, our most important assets, who walk out of our doors each evening. As I had heard this before, my tendency was to get depressed thinking about just how fragile the culmination of my life’s work, our business, really has become. Then, a thought occurred to me and everything came into focus.

Earlier in the day, we reviewed the building blocks for a successful knowledge worker firm as the following formula:

Profits = Capital Management * Effectiveness * Pricing on Purpose

My thoughts focused on the capital management element of the equation. Capital is made up of various resources that the knowledge firm must manage on a continual basis. These resources include the following:

Financial Capital = Operating capital and cash flow

Intellectual Capital = The ability to maintain and grow knowledge within an organization such that it can be applied to solve customer problems

Structural Capital = The environmental components that allow an organization to function effectively such as processes, systems, methodologies, physical plant, communications facilities

Social Capital = The brand of the organization that includes relationships with vendors, customers, external influencers, product and service awareness, and so forth

It dawned on me; in many cases the ability of the knowledge worker to monetize their intellectual capital is limited. Most knowledge workers need to work within an organization for various forms of capital that they either do not possess, or do not have the ability to properly manage. For instance, they may not possess the cash flow for marketing themselves or for investing in new equipment; they may not be able to build systems to manage projects, bill their services, perform Q&A functions while chasing the next job; they may be great technical resources, but not know how to approach social networking effectively so they have a new project waiting for them when their current project is completed. These limitations of the hired gun are answered by participating in a team environment. When the knowledge worker’s specific expertise is combined with varying forms of expertise brought by other knowledge workers and multiple capital resources, only then does the application of intellectual capital bring value to the buyer.

My function then as the leader of a team of knowledge workers is to attract intellectual capital to my team. I can do this by providing the benefits of various forms of capital that the intellectual capital owner does not possess or does not have the ability to manage. If my team is effective to the point of profitability, then I am able to demonstrate the ability to monetize the knowledge worker’s intellectual capital.

Of course, money is not everything. If I also can help the knowledge worker grow in experience, knowledge and capital management abilities, then I have provided value beyond money. As long as the knowledge worker remains with the team, I also have built additional intellectual capital accessible to my team.

To be sure, the process will always be fluid. As the team gains additional experience and knowledge individually, we must recognize the additional value requiring either additional compensation or opportunities to grow. However, the combined growth inherent in the team provides even more reason for the team to remain intact.

Should a member of the organization find a more beneficial team for their situation, then the process begins again and is costly. However, the relationship has been mutually beneficial. Both the team and the organization have been profitable. In addition, intellectual capital is one form of capital that can be shared. When a knowledge worker shares his knowledge with a customer or a coworker, they do not diminish their own knowledge. In fact, through an exchange of ideas, the knowledge worker’s intellectual capital will grow as well. Concurrently, if our organization’s capital management process includes cross training the team members, the team can retain the exiting knowledge worker’s intellectual capital even as the knowledge worker leaves the team.

Through the process, the organization has gained in reputation, customers, reference sources, finances, experience and any number of other resources. The departing knowledge worker may also add to our social capital as an external influencer or even by bringing the new employer organization to our team as a customer.

Business is the process of providing solutions for others. As we continue to build our organizations, we must recognize the impact of the knowledge worker on our business models. As we provide a valuable package of organizational attributes that the knowledge worker can monetize their intellectual capital, we can help them grow. At the same time, we can increase our retained resources of financial, structural and social capital.

All in all, it is not a zero-sum game; everybody can win.

Firm of the Future Insights Session

For those of you who are so inclined (probably only my Mom), I present for your viewing pleasure the video feed from the dialogue session I did at Insights entitled Creating the Firm of the Future.

Here is the session description:

This session will be dedicated to the possibility that a professional organization can be run more effectively when it becomes a knowledge firm rather than a service firm. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone. It requires us to think differently than we have in the past about what it is that we do. You are hereby invited to open a dialogue on a different model for creating success in a professional firm.

And, here, more importantly, is the warning slide I had on the screen as folks entered the room:

image

The video is in two parts.

Part One (runs 1 hour and 25 minutes)

Part Two (runs 1 hour and 40 minutes)

Insights MegaSession – Creating the Firm of the Future

On Wednesday, May 19th from 1:30pm to 5:30pm at Sage North America’s annual partner conference, Insights, I will be presenting a session entitled Creating the Firm of the Future (GEN52-1,2&3).

This session will be dedicated to the possibility that a professional organization can be run more effectively when it becomes a knowledge firm rather than a service firm. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone. It requires us to think differently than we have in the past about what it is that we do. You are hereby invited to open a dialogue on a different model for creating success in a professional firm.

image

Learning Objectives:

  • What is a knowledge firm?
  • Moving from revenue to profit
  • Moving from capacity planning to knowledge management
  • Moving from efficiency to effectiveness
  • Moving from hourly billing to fixed pricing

Insights Session – Enhancing Your Customers Experience

On Tuesday, May 18th at 3:15pm at Sage North America’s annual partner conference, Insights, I will be co-presenting a session with Apryl Hanson of Blytheco entitled Enhancing Your Customers Experience (GEN54).

This session will be dedicated to the possibility that we can create deep, meaningful experiences for customers. Creating such experiences is hard work and not for everyone. It requires us to think differently than we have in the past. We are the ones who must change, not our customers. You are hereby invited by myself and Apryl to open a dialogue on a new model for building customer experiences.

image For those of you who plan on attending the session, please comment below with any thoughts or questions that you would especially like me to address during our time together.

Insights Session – Creating a Partner-based Service Level Agreement

On Thursday, May 20th at 8:00am at Sage North America’s annual partner conference, Insights, I will be presenting a session entitled Creating a Partner=based Service Level Agreement (GEN58).

This session will be dedicated to the possibility that we can create high quality service level agreements with our current customers. Creating such agreements is hard work and not for all partners, as it requires us to think differently than we have in the past about the nature of our relationship with our customers. You are hereby invited to open a dialogue on a new model for servicing your customers.

For those of you who plan on attending the session, please comment below with any thoughts or questions that you would especially like me to address during our time together.

Insights Session – The Parting Glass: So what and who cares?

On Thursday, May 20th at 9:15am at Sage North America’s annual partner conference, Insights, I will be presenting a session entitled The Parting Glass: So what and who cares? (GEN22).

In this last session of the conference, join me in a no-holds-barred look back at what you have learned at Insights 2010 and what your intentions are when you get back to the office. Be prepared to submit at least one item for which you wish to have the rest of the group hold you accountable.

For those of you who plan on attending the session, note that I will be asking you to post your commitment to the group as a comment on this post. Please include:

  • A brief description of your commitment
  • A date when you plan on achieving it

Insights Session – Consulting and the Crisis of Self-esteem

Building Self-Esteem (or, Why Are You Worth Feeding?)On Wednesday, May 19th at 9:15am at Sage North America’s annual partner conference, Insights, I will be presenting a session entitled Consulting and the Crisis of Self-esteem (GEN53).

This session will be dedicated to the possibility that a professional can increase his or her self-esteem through a better understanding of what consulting really is. Improving one’s self-esteem is difficult because it requires us to think at a high level of introspection. You are hereby invited to open a dialogue on a different model for creating success in a professional firm.

I intend for this session to be interactive. I have about 20 minutes of material and would then like to have a conversation with you about the ideas presented and maybe even brainstorm some possible action items we can take once we get back home after the conference.

Perhaps this video from Alan Weiss of Summit Consulting will spur some thinking ahead of time. I bet many of you have seen it.

 

For those of you who plan on attending the session, please comment below with any thoughts or questions that you would especially like me to address during our time together.

Insights Session – Managing an Engagement from an Issues List

On Monday, May 17th at 2:30pm at Sage North America’s annual partner conference, Insights, I will be presenting a session entitled Managing an Engagement from an Issues List (GEN23).

This session will be dedicated to the possibility that a professional organization can be run more effectively when people do not have to account for every six minutes of their day on a timesheet. Instead, the firm can be run more effectively when using an issues list instead. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone. It requires us to think differently than we have in the past about what it is that we do. You are hereby invited to open a dialogue on a new model for measuring the success of a professional firm.

image

For those of you who plan on attending the session, please comment below with any thoughts or questions that you would especially like me to address during our time together.

Insights Session – Creating a Great Scope Document

On Monday, May 17th at 1:15pm at Sage North America’s annual partner conference, Insights, I will be presenting a session entitled Creating a Great Scope Document (GEN55)

This session will be dedicated to the possibility that we can create great scope documents for our customers and that by doing so we will significantly increase the probability of success. Creating such scope documents is hard work and not for everyone. It requires us to think differently than we have in the past. You are hereby invited to open a dialogue on creating such scope documents.

image

The objectives of this session are to understand the triangle of truth and elements of scope document.

For those of you who plan on attending the session, please comment below with any thoughts or questions that you would especially like me to address during our time together.

My Sessions at Sage Insights 2010

A few of you have written to me to ask about what sessions I am facilitating at Sage Insights 2010. Thank you for the vote of confidence as I assume this is because you would like to attend them, not avoid them. In either case, here they are:

Code Day & Time Title

PRE19

Sunday, 8:00am – 5:00pm

Sage Consulting Workshop

GEN55

Monday, 1:15pm – 2:15pm

Creating a Great Scope Document

GEN23

Monday, 2:30pm – 3:30pm

Managing an Engagement From an Issues List

GEN54

Tuesday, 3:15pm – 4:15pm

Enhancing Your Customer’s Experience

GEN53

Wednesday, 9:15am – 10:15am

Consulting and the Crisis of Self-Esteem

GEN52-1

Wednesday, 1:30pm – 3:00pm

Creating the Firm of the Future (Part 1 of 3)

GEN52-2

Wednesday, 3:15pm – 4:15pm

Creating the Firm of the Future (Part 2 of 3)

GEN52-3

Wednesday, 4:30pm – 5:30pm

Creating the Firm of the Future (Part 3 of 3)

GEN58

Thursday, 8:00am – 9:00am

Creating a Partner-Based Service Level Agreement

GEN22

Thursday, 9:15am – 10:15am

The Parting Glass: So What and Who Cares?