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7 Skills of Knowledge Work

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Corporate Learning Strategy (26-slide PowerPoint presentation). Although organizations invest heavily in Learning and Talent Development, most CEOs complain about the shortage of learned managers and leaders. Research reveals that a number of managers consider employee performance to remain the same if their organization's Learning function is totally [read more]

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Humans in this day and age operate in Knowledge Economies, where the ability to acquire and apply knowledge is crucial for personal and economic success.

Acquisition and application of knowledge has 4 broad categories.  Each knowledge category represents a different aspect of knowledge: Know-what, Know-why, Know-who, Know-how.

Knowledge work has become a crucial aspect of organizational success.  The struggle between competing organizations has moved from tangible resources to intangible resources, where knowledge and the ability to use knowledge have crucial roles.  Having a robust Knowledge Management Strategy has become increasingly critical to remaining competitive.

Knowledge workers—employees who are valued for their ability to think critically, analyze data, solve problems, and make decisions based on data-driven insights—now have a critical role to play by creating, sharing, and utilizing knowledge to steer innovation and progress within their organizations.  Their expertise and skills are essential to driving creativity, productivity, profitability, and a competitive advantage for their organizations.

Research has come up with the following 7 skills integral to the success of a knowledge worker—synthesized by analyzing multiple studies conducted on the subject.

Cochran and Ferrari’s (2009) work has been used as the framework for selecting these skills, with “Personal Management” skill being added by the researchers from own insight.

  1. Thinking Skills
  2. Communication
  3. Teamwork and Leadership
  4. Lifelong Learning and Self-direction
  5. Technology Use
  6. Ethics and Professionalism
  7. Personal Management

Each of these skills is essential for knowledge workers to excel in their roles and contribute to their organizations’ success.  Organizations and leaders ought to create an enabling environment through policies, procedures, and organizational structures in which the acquisition and employment of each of the 7 skills for knowledge work are ensured.

Let us delve a little deeper into some of the skills.

Thinking Skills

Thinking skills refer to the capability of employing information effectively to resolve problems, design solutions, and accomplish tasks.

Critical thinking, systems thinking, analysis skills, problem solving, creativity, and design all fall under the umbrella of thinking skills.

Communication

Communication skills refer to the capability of grasping and imparting ideas effectively.  Communication involves not only verbal and written communication but also nonverbal communication. 

The initial part of effective communication skills is understanding and deciphering complicated information from various sources via varied media.  The second part is communicating that information effectually and suitably in various formats.

Teamwork and Leadership

Teamwork and Leadership skills refer to the capacity to work with others to attain a shared objective. 

Teamwork and Leadership involve collaboration, motivation, and effective management to achieve common goals and maximize the effectiveness of the team.

Lifelong Learning and Self-direction

Lifelong learning and self-direction refer to the continual process of acquiring new skills, knowledge, and expertise in the field of work or interest.  Learning Organizations give this capability to their employees.

Interested in learning more about 7 Skills of Knowledge Work?  You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on 7 Skills of Knowledge Work here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Organizational theorists differ in defining a Learning Organization. Some suggest it as an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights. Others define organizations as Learning Organizations when they [read more]

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A Learning Organization is an organization where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new ideas and thinking are nurtured, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together. In order to outshine rivals, organizations need to [read more]


 
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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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