Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace — Book Reveiw

Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace by Nikil Saval is a good interesting book. I like the way he intertwines the social aspects and history of office spaces. He uses novels from different time periods to give you the social background. Below is an excerpt about “knowledge workers.”

“Knowledge Workers”Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace

Like McGregor, Drucker was a figure who inadvertently harmonized the impulses of the nascent counterculture with the outwardly stuffy world of business, Though hardly countercultural himself, Drucker’sconcepts would prove useful to people in later years who wanted to make the office hospitable to the wilder world outside it. Over the course of the 1960s, Drucker came to expound one of the notions that’ would make him famous: the idea that a swelling group of workers was becoming central to the economy. They were middle-class employees who would never identify themselves with the “proletariat,” nor, in fact, with management. They were technical and professional workers who controlled what Drucker believed was becoming the most important resource of all: knowledge. Calling them “knowledge workers” — a term he coined in 1962 at the same time as, but independently of, another social theorist, Fritz Machlup – Drucker saw them as occupying a historic role in the making of a responsible society,

In Drucker’s view, what was changing about work was the increasing need to apply knowledge to work. Knowledge as such, in the intellectual sense, was different. The mathematical formulas and theorems that existed in books were a form of knowledge useful to intellectual history, but mathematics as applied to, say, a space program was “knowledge work.” So, too, did advertising and marketing and various other new professions require the mental labor of workers, applying what they knew from various disciplines to the techniques of mass persuasion. It was one thing to be an expert in Freud or Newton in a university; another to use the insights of Freud to sell a toothbrush or to use Newton to build a ballistic missile capable of striking the Soviet Union.

Knowledge work itself came from a historic shift, one that Drucker, like so many, traced to Frederick Taylor. But his vision of the history was marked by a curious and useful elision. In Drucker’s account, Taylor came upon a working world characterized by rote, nearly mindless, activity. It wasn’t planned so much as willed: the workers simply worked harder rather than “smarter.” Until Taylor, that is: “Taylor, for the first time in history, looked at work itself as deserving the attention of an educated man.” Drucker’s subsequent description of the insensate labor of unskilled men in factories draws almost entirely from Taylor’s portrait of them–and accordingly condescends to their abilities to plan and organize work. In actual fact, it wasn’t so. Before Taylor, work was already organized by teams of factory workers, who in large part had control over how they worked. The knowledge they applied to work was largely “tacit” in nature, agreed upon among the workers themselves and developed through a silent or coded language, rather than “explicit” (to borrow a famous definition from the sociologist Michael Polanyi). What Taylor sought in particular– indeed, what constituted his signal obsession– was to extract this tacit knowledge from the workers and install it in another set of people, the “industrial engineers.” Drucker called them “the prototype of all modern ‘knowledge workers’ “– a plausible assumption but one that excised the tremendous amount of knowledge that already existed in the work process. (Taylor lamented that after being taught “the one best way,” workers had a stubborn tendency to return to their own ways of working.) It was a useful fiction, and a common one, that helped to uphold a new class of technicians and professionals as the masters of an ever more progressive society, dependent on the application of knowledge to work. For the knowledge worker, Drucker held, was not simply a freelance professional but rather “the successor to the employee of yesterday, the manual worker, skilled or unskilled.”

TMN: Perk Up Your Productivity

Below is blog post from Time Management Ninja. How do you perk up your productivity when it doesn’t want to get going?

Perk Up Your Productivity

Some days, getting your productivity jump started can be a challenge.

Maybe your energy level is down. Or perhaps, you are just overwhelmed with what you should be doing right now.

You need something to boost your motivation and quick.

“To perk up your productivity, get yourself in motion and the momentum will follow. ”

Here some tips to get your productivity going when it doesn’t want to cooperate.

21 Ways to Perk up Your Productivity:

  1. Get enough sleep – Your body can’t function at its peak without enough rest. Each of us needs a different amount of sleep, make sure you listen to your body clock.
  2. Grab some caffeine – Kick it up with some coffee or Red Bull. A little caffeine can go a long way.
  3. Get an early morning workout – Working out first thing in the morning can pump up your energy level all day long.
  4. Check something off your list – Crossing off a completed item on your list just feels good. That’s why we add things to our list that we have already completed… just to cross them off! Get your momentum going with some early completed todos.
  5. Talk about something you are passionate about – Nothing gets your mind going like talking about a topic you are passionate about. It doesn’t matter the topic as long as it gets you excited and your brain working.
  6. Write in your success journal – Write a few positive things in your journal from the previous day. Writing about success drives the desire for more success.
  7. Breathe deeply – Get some oxygen to your brain by breathing deeply 10 times. This is a conscious exercise and is more difficult than it sounds. Most people get distracted before reaching 10 deep breaths.
  8. Build some momentum – Once your productivity is in motion, it will continue build. What tasks can you complete now to build your productivity momentum?
  9. Make a plan – Feeling overwhelmed by how much you need to do? Take a few minutes to formulate your plan of attack. Groom your todo list and prioritize your work.
  10. Listen to your favorite music – Always keep your favorite music with you. (This is not difficult with your smartphone and services like Spotify). When you need a boost, pull out those headphones and listen to your favorite power song.
  11. Take a break – You can concentrate and focus on the same work for only so long. Make sure you take a break to reset and recharge before diving back in to the task at hand.
  12. Get up and go for a walk – Instead of sitting in your chair for hours on end, get your body up and moving. A short walk, whether around the building or down the hall, can get your body moving again.
  13. Positive attitude – When your attitude is low, so is your energy. Choose a positive attitude and the productivity will follow. Even the worst of tasks can be improved with a shift in attitude.
  14. Read a motivational quote or passage – When you need a pick up, read your favorite motivational quotes or writings. I keep mine in Evernote so that they are always handy.
  15. Talk to someone who motivates you – Have a quick conversation with someone who always lifts your mood. Steer clear of the negative ones, and have a quick chat with someone who always has a good attitude.
  16. Send a quick text to a loved one – Tell someone you are thinking of them. Your message will lift both of your energy levels.
  17. Do your hobby – Everyone needs a hobby. Spend a few minutes on yours. Let your passion for your hobby drive productivity in all areas on your life.
  18. Finish a task to done - Many things started and none done doesn’t build your energy, rather it makes you feel like you are floundering. Make sure you complete tasks all the way to done in order to build your confidence level.
  19. Get ahead of a deadline – Driving ahead of a deadline gets your energy going. It puts you in control, and will motivate you to stay ahead of your work.
  20. Do something from the back burner – What has been on your list for a long time? Get that old task off your list so you can concentrate on moving forward.
  21. Get some more caffeine – …just don’t overdo it.

Perk Up Your Productivity

When you need a boost, try one or more of these quick tips to perk up your productivity.

Sometimes, all it takes is a simple action to get your productivity back in motion.

Question: How do you perk up your productivity when it doesn’t want to get going?