“In today’s society and organizations, people work increasingly with knowledge, rather than with skill. Knowledge and skill differ in a fundamental characteristic — skills change very, very slowly. Knowledge, however, changes itself. It makes itself obsolete, and very rapidly. A knowledge worker becomes obsolescent if he or she does not go back to school every three or four years.”
–Peter F. Drucker
This is true. Our thinking is changing all the time, for example, years ago I used to study and teach control systems, but although it is still practiced in all organizations, colleges and university professors want to emphasize leadership and empowerment more, so the word “control” is politically incorrect even though it must take place even in “empowered” organizations. I’ve had to adapt to that trend; I’ve had to adjust to change and to place more emphasis on leadership in knowledge work and to empowerment (or informal control) in organizations. And just look at how fast technology is changing and impacting all manner of things. Some would argue that changes in technology are changing society itself by changing how we behave and the things we can do. Witness the peaceful (so far) revolution in Egypt organized largely through the use of technology.
[EXPAND More]I’ve been amazed in my recent work by the incredible amount of research I can do right here at my desk thanks to the massive reach of the Internet. If I had to do all of the same research the old fashioned way by tracking down materials, historical records, and translations in libraries, etc. this new book project would have taken much, much, longer. I do not think it would have been practical.
There’s a need for continuous learning all around. I often need help with some of the new technology because I have to be skilled in using the PDA tools that I need. I always ask for help so that I can gain new knowledge. I’ve had to learn all about Kindles, iPads and Blackberrys as well as new software. I am fortunate in that our youngest son, Joe, is with Google and our daughter-in-law, Lauren, is with Facebook. The rate at which knowledge is changing is simply staggering.
We are seeing change that is more rapid than we’ve ever seen before, but the truth is we will only see more rapid changes in the future. Those workers who are not able to keep up with change are going to plateau or burn out and basically make themselves obsolete.
Peter Drucker believed the knowledge society was a society of opportunity and risk. People around the world with access to shared content are energizing competition and innovation. People need to learn how to learn if they’re going to be able to keep up and this has deep implications for the teaching process. We have to figure out how to place more emphasis on creativity and the processes involved in learning. We all have to learn how to increase the speed and intensity of our learning processes while still enjoying life!