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For knowledge workers, solving problems is the easy part

I read – and highly recommend – Garry Kasparov’s book How Life Imitates Chess a couple of years ago, and am thinking I should pick it back up again. If not to read in its entirety, then at least to skim through my dog-ears and margin notes. There are a lot of good insights into the nature of work today, especially what we call knowledge-work.

For example, Jack Vinson’s (@jackvinson) recent post Some qualities of a knowledge worker reminded me of the following excerpt:

Knowing a solution is at hand is a huge advantage; it’s like not having a “none of the above” option. Anyone with reasonable competence and adequate resources can solve a puzzle when it is presented as something to be solved. We can skip the subtle evaluations and move directly to plugging in possible solutions until we hit upon a promising one. Uncertainty is far more challenging. Instead of immediately looking for solutions to the crisis, we have to maintain a constant state of asking, “Is there a crisis* forming?”

Solving a puzzle that you know has a solution may require knowledge, but it is knowledge that already exists. Figuring out if there is a solution to a problem, or even if there is a problem at all, requires the manipulation of existing knowledge, the gathering of new knowledge / information, and the creation of something new.

This is when knowledge work becomes art.

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  1. Bill Bennett | 30 Sep 10 at 1431 | Permalink

    “This is when knowledge work becomes art.”

    …or science.

    The approach you mention applies to both art and science.

  2. Brett | 30 Sep 10 at 1457 | Permalink

    Bill,

    There is a definite science to knowledge work, and I actually debated whether to refer to the science of knowledge work along with – or instead of – the art. In my mind was a quote I’ve seen attributed to da Vinci: Study the science of art and the art of science.

    I can’t really tell you why I went with the art, except that “work as art” is a theme I’ve been exploring on this blog.

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  1. [...] his post Some qualities of a knowledge worker, which I also mentioned yesterday, Jack Vinson (@jackvinson) mentioned a few skills needed by knowledge workers and notes These are [...]