I've been re-reading some of Peter Druckers work and particularly his paper from the California Management Review Knowledge-Worker Productivity: The Biggest Challenge.

Six major factors determine knowledge-worker productivity.

  • Knowledge-worker productivity demands that we ask the question: "What is the task?"
  • It demands that we impose the responsibility for their productivity on the individual knowledge workers themselves. Knowledge Workers have to manage themselves. They have to have autonomy.
  • Continuing innovation has to be part of the work, the task and the responsibility of knowledge workers.
  • Knowledge work requires continuous learning on the part of the knowledge worker, but equally continuous teaching on the part of the knowledge worker.
  • Productivity of the knowledge worker is not—at least not primarily—a matter of the quantity of output. Quality is at least as important.
  • Finally, knowledge-worker productivity requires that the knowledge worker is both seen and treated as an "asset" rather than a "cost." It requires that knowledge workers want to work for the organization in preference to all other opportunities.

Each of these requirements (except perhaps the last one) is almost the exact opposite of what is needed to increase the productivity of the manual worker.