Knowledge Worker Productivity

I have been looking at the work of Erik Brynjolfsson from the MIT Sloan School. Two things struck about his work on Knowledge Worker productivity:

1. The ability to multi-task is key to productivity. It doesn’t help with the end-to-end time for any specific task, but it increases total throughput per knowledge worker.

(a) That means if you are a knowledge worker – get good at multi-tasking, in other words use the down time in any specific process to switch gears and work on another process.

(b) Asynchrony in human processes is good – it helps with multi-tasking

(c) Use tools that provide support with multi-tasking processes

2. From an organizational perspective – performance monitoring + performance pay + IT enablement = increased productivity for knowledge workers. The IT enablement tool in his paper is Human Capital Management (HCM, essentially BI tools for HR). The monitoring is usually done via performance appraisals, BI for workforce management, Time and Attendence measurements – of course these are not the optimal measures – it would be much better to monitor knowledge worker productivity directly from the processes they do, in other words through a Human Process Management System. Bottom line:

HCM + HPM + pay for performance = increased knowledge worker productivity.


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