Knowledge Worker

Where are you with your New Year resolutions? Showcasing how Mothers are Multi-competent Knowledge Workers has topped my list!

Winter is finally upon us, and it’s that time of the year when I tend to up my reading game. I literally can’t think of a more soul-fulfilling way to pass those chilling post-toddler hours: immersing in a good book, along with a warm beverage and a fluffy blanket is my thing. I crave for it. I plan it. It’s mine! I get into the zone. Time flies, and I lose line of sight of everyone and everything when I’m holding my book.

Here’s a brief cheat-sheet on the type of person I am: Want to extract my consent for one of your cunning plans? Do it me while I’m reading. Ask away, stranger. Most likely I won’t pay any attention, and your question will go unnoticed. Or you could get lucky and get served with a vague “uh-huh”. Both responses could be translated into anything you feel like. It’s one of the rarely discussed advantages of hanging with a severe bookworm like myself!

I have this rule: for every two non-fiction books I finish, I treat myself a fiction one. A novel of some sort. I enjoy mystery, thriller and crime books, but I never (ever) say no to a nice Victorian romance. It’s getting harder and harder to find uninterrupted time to do my reading, but I keep it up even when I don’t achieve my annual goal of 20 books.

Last year, for instance, (my first full cycle around the sun being a Mom) I managed to cram 13 books into my hectic schedule. Meik Viking, Daniel Siegel, Oprah, Machado de Assis, Gustave Flaubert were a few notable additions to my new literary acquaintances. But the last book I read for 2019, the one I got to finish seconds before the New Year popped in, was quite something. The last book of 2019 left me in awe, and had me wondering why on earth I hadn’t read it sooner!

They don’t write such books nowadays. Contemporary non-fiction authors tend to summarize, compare and contrast, but not dig deeper into the root of the topic at hand. They tend to oversimplify and generalize. They build on a single core message and then attempt to invent 100 different ways of selling it to you. They are repetitive. Sometimes even redundant. But not this last book. Not that particular author. Not Peter Drucker.

Peter Drucker is to Modern Management what Katharine Hepburn is to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: a Legend! He is one of the best-known (and widely influential) thinkers and writers on management theory and practice, and his writings have predicted many of the major developments of the late twentieth century: privatization and decentralization; the rise of Japan to economic world power; the decisive importance of marketing; and the emergence of the information society with its necessity of lifelong learning!

A pioneer in the development of management education, Peter Drucker invented -among other things- a concept widely known as Management by Objectives. In 1959, he coined the term Knowledge Worker, and later on considered Knowledge-worker Productivity to be the next frontier of management. What a forward-thinker! No wonder he was an INTJ!

Back in 2019, when I was only just beginning to position my blog, I made a bold statement on how I view Moms that went like this:

Mothers are multi-competent knowledge workers, and bloody well worth the recognition!

I hadn’t read Peter Drucker’s Effective Executive just yet at that point, but I had stumbled across the term so many times that the book had gained a place in my (long) reading queue. But when I came across Josh Bersin’s reading list for 2020 last December, I took the hint and instantly felt the time had come to prioritize this read. And, boy, what a cognitive growth ride it was! No wonder Josh is in the habit of reading this book over and over again every few years!

Photo: Kaboompics (Pexels)

I had a general idea but didn’t know just how spot-on the Knowledge Worker analogy was to Motherhood back then. Now that I have gained more data to back my statement, I’m cheerfully revisiting this. So here’s three things to take away when it comes to Knowledge Workers and their possible relation to Moms:

  • Knowledge workers are those whose main capital is knowledge. Examples include all those professionals whose line of work requires one to “think for a living” like academics, economists or business people. The mental burden experienced by Moms all over the world is, I argue, quite indicative of the amount of thinking that goes in Motherhood. If thinking is your criteria to identify someone as a knowledge worker, Moms epically check that tick box!
  • Knowledge work can be differentiated from other forms of work by its emphasis on “non-routine” problem solving that requires a combination of convergent and divergent thinking. I’ve dedicated an entire piece on the amount of Troubleshooting that goes into our daily Mom life. Unexpected tantrums on the super market aisle. That extra piece of baby pants you should have brought with you and didn’t, and now your little one is in the car seat wrapped with your favorite scarf until you get home. Weaning. Introducing solids. Sleep training. I could go on…
  • Knowledge workers spend 38% of their time searching for information. I don’t really have an equivalent percentage for Moms, but I can tell you (for a fact!) that I me and the hubby have invested many (many!) of our sleepless nights trying to decode stuff like Sleep Training, Weaning, Cooking or Food Safety (only to name a few) and lay down our tactical plans, by the power of Books and the almighty Search Engine! From Scholar to DuckDuckGo and from WHO to NHS, we have a folder packed with so much information that would make our municipal library green with envy! And it’s constantly being populated with new stuff as new topics emerge (potty training is upon us, darn!)

So, Peter, I bet you didn’t have Momma-bears in mind when you wrote the book that popularized the Knowledge Worker concept, but I can tell you this: it’s one hell of an Analogy we got there. Any way you look at it, Moms fit the Knowledge-worker profile: they are no less than responsive informed thinkers who eat problems for breakfast and still find time to pack their kid’s lunchbox, hand in that report, and tackle the incessant laundry!

Oh, and here’s a thought my dear Recruiters or Hiring Managers: instead of looking down upon Moms who present themselves to you with career breaks in their CVs because they spend some time at home with their kid(s) and “lost touch with the world of work” (like, ewww!), why not acknowledge the fact that, during their “break”, they actually went through an intense experiential training filled with transferable competences that further empowered their capabilities as Knowledge Workers? It’s not so hard to get your head around this if you try! Mr Drucker, I’m sure, would swiftly attest.

Keeping your Mom knowledge working? You got this!

Featured Photo: Kaboompics (Pexels)

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