In today's society, knowledge is the primary resource for individuals and for the economy overall. Land, labor, and capital—the economist’s traditional factors of production—do not disappear, but they become secondary. They can be obtained, and obtained easily, provided there is specialized knowledge. At the same time, however, specialized knowledge by itself produces nothing. It can become productive only when it is integrated into a task. And that is why the knowledge society is also a society of organizations: the purpose and function of every organization, business and non-business alike, is the integration of specialized knowledges into a common task, argues Peter Drucker.
For managers, the dynamics of knowledge impose one clear imperative: every organization has to build the management of change into its very structure.
According to Peter Drucker, this means that every organization has to prepare for the abandonment of everything it does. Managers have to learn to ask every few years of every process, every product, every procedure, every policy: “If we did not do this already, would we go into it now knowing what we now know?” If the answer is no, the organization has to ask, “So what do we do now?” And it has to do something, and not say, “Let’s make another study.”
The change relies on knowledge workers. They still need, however, the tools of production. In fact, capital investment in the tools of the knowledge employee may already be higher than the capital investment in the tools of the manufacturing worker ever was. (And the social investment, for example, the investment in a knowledge worker’s education, is many times the investment in the manual worker’s education.) But this capital investment is unproductive unless the knowledge worker brings to bear on it the knowledge that he or she owns and that cannot be taken away. Machine operators in the factory did as they were told. The machine decided not only what to do but how to do it. The knowledge employee may well need a machine, whether it be a computer, an ultrasound analyzer, or a telescope. But the machine will not tell the knowledge worker what to do, let alone how to do it. And without this knowledge, which belongs to the employee, the machine is unproductive.
Further, machine operators, like all workers throughout history, could be told what to do, how to do it, and how fast to do it. Knowledge workers cannot be supervised effectively. Unless they know more about their specialty than anybody else in the organization, they are basically useless. The marketing manager may tell the market researcher what the company needs to know about the design of a new product and the market segment in which it should be positioned. But it is the market researcher’s job to tell the president of the company what market research is needed, how to set it up, and what the results mean.
To thrive in today’s innovation-driven economy, workers need a different mix of skills than in the past. In addition to foundational skills like literacy and numeracy, they need competencies like collaboration, creativity and problem-solving, and character qualities like persistence, curiosity and initiative.
Changes in the labour market have heightened the need for all individuals, and not just a few, to have these skills. In countries around the world, economies run on creativity, innovation and collaboration. Skilled jobs are more and more centred on solving unstructured problems and effectively analysing information. In addition, technology is increasingly substituting for manual labour and being infused into most aspects of life and work.
Education technology can complement existing and emerging pedagogical approaches such as project-based, experiential, inquiry-based, and adaptive learning methods, as well as facilitate the teaching of twenty-first-century skills such as communication, creativity, persistence, and collaboration. But much more can be done with education technology to develop higher-order competencies and character qualities.
Delivering on the potential of technology to address skills gaps will ultimately require effective collaboration among a complex and interconnected group of policymakers, educators, education technology providers, and funders. Among other actions, stakeholders can do the following:
For further information, please, read the recently published World Economic Forum report which has been undertaken in cooperation with the Boston Consulting Group:
Success in the marketplace increasingly depends on learning, yet most people don’t know how to learn. Those who assume to be the best at learning are, in fact, not very good at it, especially the well-educated, high-powered, high-commitment professionals who occupy key leadership positions in the modern corporation.
Chris Argyris, James Bryant Conant Professor Emeritus of Education and Organizational Behavior at Harvard University points out that more and more jobs—no matter what the title—are taking on the contours of “knowledge work”. People at all levels of the organization must combine the mastery of some highly specialized technical expertise with the ability to work effectively in teams, form productive relationships with clients and customers, and critically reflect on and then change their own organizational practices. And the nuts and bolts of management—whether of high-powered consultants or service representatives, senior managers or factory technicians—increasingly consists of guiding and integrating the autonomous but interconnected work of highly skilled people.
For more details, please, have a look at the article of Professor Argyris, republished in Harvard Business Review, today:
Our knowledge management approach offers unique solutions how to reason highly skilled professionals about their learning behavior in new and more effective ways, it breaks down the defenses in knowledge sharing that block learning.
The Danube Region Strategy addresses a wide range of international cooperations from the Black Forest (Germany) to the Black Sea (Romania-Ukraine-Moldova), home of 115 million inhabitants.
Today's Danube Region Strategy conference had a significant focus on international energy priorities.
The Energy Priority Area of the Danube Region Strategy has three major objectives. First, it coordinates regional energy policies in various topics in order to exploit the full potential of an integrated energy market. Second, it is instrumental in the integration of the energy markets of the non-EU countries and supports them in the implementation of the EU energy priorities. Third, it is committed to launch cutting edge technology developments, which will increase the energy efficiency of the region and enhance the use of renewable energy sources.
Horizon 2020, the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014-2020) offers a wide range of financing opportunities for innovative knowledge management projects within the energy sectors of the Danube Region.
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We participated at a workshop on Digital Roadmap for Visegrad Cooperation, today. The Digital Agenda is a key priority topic of current Slovak Visegrad Presidency. It also contains policy recommendations for European Union, how to develop its digital single market.
Dr. Zoltan Csedo, Managing Partner of Innotica Group, emphasized the key role of innovative SMEs within the Digital Roadmap. SMEs with proven track record, operating in local ICT industries are most responsive to commercial and technology needs. Governments of Visegrad Cooperation should ensure favourable policy environment for their innovative SME sector, Dr. Csedo said.
Participants discussed key challenges of digital economy as driver of systemic changes, and new source of economic growth in Visegrad countries. The aim of the discussion was to focus on joint concerns, policy ideas and expectations, and turn them into comprehensive policy recommendations for V4 Governments.
The event was organised by Central European Policy Institute (CEPI) and Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy (CEID) in cooperation with Embassy of Slovak Republic in Hungary.