Product Development

Systems Thinking – Suggested Reading #2 – Knowledge Management & Systems Thinking

11 November 2015 | Team EACPDS


In our last post we talked about three authors whose work give good insight into systems thinking. I want to thank everyone that commented on that post. I’m glad you appreciated it. If any of you don’t know how to reach us and want to provide feedback, you can reach us at, or you can message me on my Twitter account @systhinking, or you can simply leave a message below.

The positive feedback from the three books we recommended led us to do another recommendation. These books are on subjects of knowledge work, knowledge management, and knowledge workers themselves.

The first of three authors I would like to recommend is Peter Drucker — probably the most prolific business writer of the 21st century. Just before his death Druker published his final book titled Management Challenges for the 21st Century. He called the primary challenge of the 21st century is increasing the productivity of knowledge workers. He has a chapter inside that book devoted specifically to that topic. Very easy and good reading; easily absorbed.

Druckers work is followed up by the work of Dan Pink who wrote the book Drive. Drive talks about motivation of the knowledge worker. He reinforces the believe of Deming and Drucker that the traditional carrot and stick motivators are not only ineffective for knowledge works, but they’re actually counter productive and cause a reduction in productivity.

The third author I’d like to recommend is Thomas Davenport. He’s really taken the baton from Peter Drucker in the elaboration of the motivation and management of knowledge workers. Davenport has two very good books. One is Thinking for a Living and the other is Working Knowledge. These two books very carefully layout what constitutes a knowledge worker and what constitutes knowledge work. He talks about the distinctions between data, information, and knowledge. He starts making the management of knowledge as a system very clear. In his books he also emphasizes the inclusion of humans in a knowledge management system. Knowledge management has been a stumbling block for most companies in the 21st century. It’s because we address it with technology solutions alone. Davenport points out that pure technology is not enough — that knowledge exists within the minds of human beings and to move to a pure technology solution – and exclude human beings – is to move away from a real knowledge management system.

In conclusion, the environment for knowledge workers and the knowledge management system are both systems that require very careful systems design.

Contact us to learn more about how Systems Thinking and the application of our Product Development Operating System can help your organization become more efficient, productive, innovative, and competitive.

Follow Bill at