Peter Drucker reloaded

Peter Drucker is considered one of preeminent management thinkers of recent time. He coined the term “knowledge worker” and with that “knowledge worker productivity”. Knowledge work productivity is the measure of the efficiency and effectiveness of the output generated by workers who mainly rely on knowledge, rather than labor, during the production process.

He argued that knowledge work could be judged on whether or not three things occur:

  1. when something successful that never existed previously, is now up and running;
  2. when something successful that existed previously has been improved or expanded; or
  3. when something unsuccessful that existed previously has been stopped.

The productivity for achieving one of these things could be determined based on the speed with which it is accomplished, and the cost required to finish the job.

Drucker acknowledged that knowledge workers used their education, experience, and personal interaction to achieve the organizational goals. As such he advocated that organizations focus on removing unproductive work and promote a systems thinking approach.

In context of the challenges facing the public service today, his advice could be summarized in a few fundamental action points. The public service should seek to:

  1. Decentralize and simplify – so that it can respond quickly to the needs of its citizens.
  2. Plan reviews of sunseting or renewal of programs, policies and initiatives. Times change and the needs change.
  3. Temper reacting to 24×7 pressures with careful thought and analysis
  4. Promote the efficient and effective execution of processes
  5. Respect the knowledge worker. People, he felt, are the assets of a knowledge based organization and that they need to be prepared and free to perform.
  6. Build a sense of community and pride in the public service. Not just employees – but the citizens should have pride in their Public Service organizations.


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