Knowledge Workers

The term ‘knowledge worker’ describes someone who adds value by processing existing information to create new information that could be used to define and solve problems. Examples of knowledge workers include lawyers, doctors, diplomats, law-makers, software developers, managers and bankers. We can probably say that knowledge workers use their intellect to convert their ideas into products, services, or processes.

A knowledge worker could be a problem solver rather than a production worker, or a person who uses intellectual rather than manual skills to earn a living, or someone who uses knowledge and information to add to existing knowledge and information.

There are thought to be two main types of knowledge worker: ‘core knowledge workers’ and ‘everyone else’.

Core knowledge workers are those in specific ‘knowledge management’ roles. Examples include Chief Information Officers, Knowledge Managers, Librarians, Content Managers, Information Officers, Knowledge Analysts, etc.

‘Everyone else’ constitutes all the other knowledge workers.  In health care for example, that means doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, managers, technicians, administrators, etc. In short, everyone in the NHS is engaged in some form of ‘knowledge work’.

Of course there is not always a clear dividing line between the two, but the distinction can be a useful one when starting out. It can be particularly useful in helping people to understand that everyone is a knowledge worker to some degree, and knowledge work is everyone’s responsibility, not just that of a few people with ‘information’ or ‘knowledge’ in their job title.

Download and complete Worksheet 11.




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