The Productivity of Cows

The production levels of cows have gone through the roof and many who study this say it’s because of technology, process and some genetics.  And if you add that we can capture their methane gas…or at least we’re trying to, their productivity might measure even higher. So why do I bring up cows? It’s funny to think about it, and I think we could all use more humor when we’re looking at how to build a more productive life, one that embraces the exciting knowledge we all have at our fingertips. It doesn’t really matter if it’s at work or in leisure. As you read, consider both.

Solving the problem of methane gas impact on our planet might take a different kind of knowledge worker. The term “knowledge worker” was first coined by Peter Drucker in his book, The Landmarks of Tomorrow (1959) – yes, 1959! He defined knowledge workers as high-level workers who apply theoretical and analytical knowledge, acquired through formal training, to develop products and services. There are about 130 million full time workers in the United State and of those, a little more than half (about 60 million) are deemed knowledge workers.  Knowledge workers have been expected to:

  • Identify important information from a large base of information, that though their studies they became familiar with.
  • Weed out less important information and focus on essential information to solve problems, answer questions, and generate ideas. Use analytical reasoning and judgment to address situations.
  • Manage themselves and others.
  • Possess good communication skills to work closely with others in decision-making, goal setting, and brain-storming sessions.
  • Be interested in finding new information and applying it for continuous growth and to keep up with ever changing technologies.

I suggest that unlike the Bob Dylan song, “Times they are a changing,” times have already changed. I suggest we now have “Learning Workers.” These workers possess many of the same knowledge worker attributes, but there’s a pretty big difference…we can instantly learn anything, anywhere. All it takes is a smartphone or access to the Internet. Knowledge used to be a something that only a few people had, and passed down through specific channels. Today, knowledge on just about anything is available on the Internet. Want to know how to change the oil in your car, organize your office in an efficient way, or learn a new computer program? It’s all available. Today, being an apprentice and working your way up the company holds some value, but nothing like it did. This is partially the reason there’s a move towards learning workers being considered an ‘asset’ rather than a ‘cost.’ What sets them apart is their knowledge of how to learn. They learn as they go, adapt, and apply their learning to new situations and issues. Companies that embrace a culture of having teams that recognize the value of having set processes fully open to change through collaboration and innovation will be recognized as “learning organizations” and lead the pack.

For those of us who are older, the transition may be tough, even scary because our working life and society has ingrained a certain process in us for so long. But I encourage the both of us to see if we can explore the value of bringing knowledge workers with their fresh perspectives and a thirst for knowledge and growth alongside us to drive positive change. As we look forward to celebrating another 4th of July – Independence Day in celebration of the birth of our nation, are you willing to work towards being more independent from the same old, same old, same old and add creative thought, like productive like cows trying to help the planet by having their methane captured and used for fuel?

The Productivity of Cows
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