McKinsey: Knowledge Worker Productivity- The Key to Competitive Advantage?

McKinsey spits out an interesting article today- “The next revolution in interactions.”
“In today’s developed economies, the significant nuances in employment concern interactions: the searching, monitoring, and coordinating required to manage the exchange of goods and services. Since 1997, extensive McKinsey research on jobs in many industries has revealed that globalization, specialization, and new technologies are making interactions far more pervasive in developed economies. Currently, jobs that involve participating in interactions rather than extracting raw materials or making finished goods account for more than 80 percent of all employment in the United States. And jobs involving the most complex type of interactions—those requiring employees to analyze information, grapple with ambiguity, and solve problems—make up the fastest-growing segment.”
What they’re saying is that knowledge work is up, manual work is down– and they do a good job of breaking this down by industry.
“Over this past year, we looked closely at different kinds of interactions. Companies in many sectors are hiring additional employees for more complex interactions and fewer employees for less complex ones. For instance, frontline managers and nurses—who must exercise high levels of judgment and often draw on what economists call tacit knowledge, or experience- are in great demand. Workers who perform more routine interactions, such as clerical tasks, are less sought after. In fact, companies have been automating and outsourcing jobs that involve many of these transactional interactions.
“The shift from transactional to tacit interactions requires companies to think differently about how to improve performance—and about their technology investments. Moreover, the rise of tacit occupations opens up the possibility that companies can again create capabilities and advantages that rivals can’t easily duplicate.”
Worth reading.
The McKinsey folk need to spend some time chatting with Tom Davenport. His latest book – Thinking for a Living: How to Get Better Performance and Results from Knowledge Workers – gets into this in some detail.

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