The Knowledge-Based Economy: Are You and Your Company Ready for the New Era?

Until recently, knowledge was for the few. To learn something, you would need to take a course, turn to a specialist or spend weeks at a time looking through books and other sources. The internet was still unavailable for most of us, and the amount of information that could be found on it was far less extensive than it is today. But things have changed, a lot. These days, we’re just a few clicks away from accessing any – yes, any – information. In other words, we are now undeniably in the age of the knowledge-based economy. And the sooner your company is ready for it, the better.

No more rote learning, now it’s the intelligent use of information

In the age of the knowledge-based economy, we must say goodbye to old educational methods. A high-achieving student is no longer someone who can memorize a ton of information, he or she is someone who can figure out just what to do with all the data at their fingertips.

Likewise, we no longer measure professionals by their accumulated training and skills (“working with knowledge”), but by their dynamism, ability to work with a team and by their capacity to find and make use of the most relevant information (“work with learning”).

This is because, amid so much content, it is essential to know how to filter and quickly and efficiently locate the information you are seeking. While it may seem unfair that employers may prize other qualities over knowledge, in fact, this new paradigm may mean the opposite – a fairer market that provides equal opportunity to all. Find out how these trends can be beneficial to your company in our article on the future of work.

The era of the knowledge-based economy

In addition to accessibility, technological advances have allowed the automation of a series of activities, eliminating the need for some functions and extinguishing some professions, which has raised fears of further progress in a good part of the population. These advances are of a cyclical nature, however, and as people streamline processes and rebuild the environment, new professions are continually emerging and disappearing, and people must learn to adapt to the changes.

Even highly-regarded professions that have remained practically untouched throughout the ages – such as medicine, engineering, law, teaching, and so on – are experiencing profound changes in the knowledge-based economy.

Research by Susan Lund et al., discussed in this article by McKinsey, shows that these professions were only sustained, within the framework of the knowledge-based economy, due to the high level of human interaction demanded in these areas.

Is your company ready for knowledge-based economy?

In the age of the knowledge-based economy, the intensification of global competition, the shortage of skilled professionals and demographic changes have forced companies to modernize in many ways. This means optimizing strategies that enable them to use their best employees more efficiently.

Susan Lund’s paper for McKinsey also pointed out that, among the companies included in the study, their managers are continually exploring ways to renew how, where, and by whom interaction work is done. Those that best adapt to this process of renewal will be rewarded with higher productivity, flexibility, opportunity, access to more skilled (increasingly scarce) professionals and, consequently, more significant gains.

Learn about some of the initiatives that these companies have adopted to adapt to the era of the knowledge-based economy:

  • Decentralize activities

This method is similar to task delegation, as discussed in another of our articles: almost all interaction work includes tasks that can be delegated to direct more skilled professionals to engage in higher value activities.

  • Become virtual

Remote work has been continuously increasing since the 1990s and may be the answer to the shortage of qualified personnel: by decentralizing activities companies will be able to hire people who can work remotely, often from home. Reports estimate that in the United States, a quarter of all jobs could be done remotely, and surveys by McKinsey indicated that 500 out of the 2,000 companies surveyed planned to use more offsite employees in the future.

  • Make activities more flexible

By decentralizing some jobs, you can use technology to virtualize some activities to develop and execute your projects in a more efficient manner. Many companies are taking advantage of mixed work teams, where some stay full-time in the office, others work remotely, and some only work part-time to meet specific needs. By optimizing these team configurations and distributing activities, a company can promote greater engagement and improve productivity.

Are you, as a professional, prepared for the knowledge-based economy?

Professionals who are prepared for the knowledge-based economy should be more flexible and creative, qualities which are also inherent to effective entrepreneurs. Although creativity and the holonomic mind – that is, capable of thinking globally, taking in the totality of systems – seem exclusive to a few privileged few, it’s possible to train yourself and your team to work in a more creative or holonomic way.

Defining Priority Information

In that sense, in an article for the Harvard Business Review, Rick Wartzman states that it is essential to know what information is needed and what to do with it.

One of the many ways to take advantage of available information is, for example, the practice of people analytics: an analytical method that allows companies to anticipate trends and create market strategies, as discussed in our article on people management. Tips for executives can be summarized as follows:

  • Understand how to coordinate and manage the consequences of constant changes to teams and projects, without being afraid of its inherent challenges;
  • Be ultra-communicative to ensure that the whole team is in the loop, and keep track of what is happening in every area of your company;
  • Be observant, always staying aware of what is happening in your work environment;
  • Always be willing to listen to your employees, especially those who are working remotely;
  • Be flexible enough to be able to let go of outdated practices;
  • Highlight situations in which tasks cannot be completed on time.

This last item is linked to the ability to deal calmly with questions that involve, for example, employees in different time zones. One must accept the fact that it is not always possible to be in control of everything, all the time.

To better coordinate your team and be better prepared for the era of the knowledge-based economy, use management tools like Runrun.it. You’ll see how technology can complement your routine and increase your company’s productivity. Sign up for a free trial today: https://runrun.it


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