Core practices in knowledge work are often ad-hoc

Knowledge workers’ routinely involves complex, underspecified tasks like understanding the basics of a new industry or writing a memo on some strategic consideration. Even when these responsibilities are core to their work, knowledge workers’ approach to these tasks is often ad-hoc—created on the spot based on past experience, instincts, aphorisms, and whim. These practices are the opposite of a Executable strategy.

This way of working is highly contingent on both practitioner and context, so it’s difficult for knowledge workers to share and build knowledge about these practices.

Without consistent ground to stand on, it’s difficult for knowledge workers to evaluate and develop their own performance relative to these core tasks. Athletes and musicians pursue virtuosity in fundamental skills much more rigorously than knowledge workers do

Because these processes aren’t considered systematically, knowledge workers typically don’t structure the outputs of these tasks so that they will accumulate into something more valuable over time (contra Knowledge work should accrete).

Last updated 2023-07-13.