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For those who manage well, there is a bright and prosperous future. For those who are managed, the future (and certainly the prospect of a good income) is not so bright.

There is no such thing as a "knowledge worker" in the sense that we have agricultural or factory workers. All knowledge work is, first and foremost, a management task. Of course, strictly speaking, management is a type of work. However, in knowledge work, everyone is a manager to one degree or another.

Right now, you may not in fact be managing people. You are, however, managing your time, managing content, and perhaps managing other resources.

In a knowledge organization, the role of management changes. Management becomes less about setting and policing rules for workers and more about establishing strategy, setting goals, showing leadership and measuring results.

Knowledge management is less about managing people and more about giving them the right goals, the right motivation and the right tools, and clearly articulating how success or failure will be measured.

As a knowledge manager, you should look to your manager for the broad strategic direction and you should look to yourself for the ability to manage your day. You must develop this crucial skill, because if you're waiting to be told what to do... then your job is in serious danger of being automated or outsourced.

Let's say you're part of a Web team and your day-to-day job involves turning print documents into PDFs and putting them up. That is a job that requires very little skill or thinking. That is a job that could just as easily be outsourced or offshored.

If you are a knowledge manager, on the other hand, you would stand back and ask the fundamental question: What is the task?

The task is not to put stuff up on your Web site. The task is to effectively communicate with your readers. A knowledge manager would question whether print content is truly effective on the Web. A knowledge manager would explore what better ways there are to publish this content on the Web.

You send and receive many emails every day. As a knowledge manager, you need to constantly question whether you are effectively communicating in your emails. Are your emails being ignored or deleted? That's a big problem. How well do you organize the emails you send and receive? How easy is it for you to quickly find an important email?

Are your presentations effective? Do they make people more knowledgeable? Do they make them more likely to act in a way you want them to? Are your reports effective? A knowledge manager is always asking this question: Am I effective?

We are all managers now. In a new area such as the Web, we may in fact have to manage our managers. You need to manage your manager's expectations of what the Web site can practically achieve, because you probably know a lot more about the real potential of your site than your manager does.

There isn't a great future for those who do not rise to the knowledge management challenge. As organizations continue to automate, outsource and offshore, those people who remain will become invaluable to the success of the organization. They will be the knowledge managers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Gerry McGovern
Gerry McGovern (gerry@gerrymcgovern.com) is a content management consultant and author. His latest book is The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online, which teaches unique techniques for identifying and measuring the performance of customers' top tasks.