Fifteen years ago, Peter Drucker’s Post-Capitalist Society (1993) changed my life forever.
The main idea behind Post-Capitalist Society is that the economic rules that governed the world up to the 1980’s are (or were?) obsolete; that the land, labor and capital, and other capitalism engines had seized to be. And that the most important thing for the survival of a company and, transitionally, the entire economical system of the post-modern society, was the worker’s ability to analyze data, establish connections, causal relationships, and making decisions about it. So, Drucker argued that the working class would be displaced in rank for what he called the knowledge workers.
Think about it: the emergence of a global market and the price standardization forced the states to introduce protectionist measures to avoid massive bankruptcies in their heavy-weight industries. If all the companies of the same industry use the same technology and manufacture equivalent products with the same raw materials, then it becomes evident that the only way to survive is by reaching new levels of sophistication through the data analysis of production and product distribution. Applying knowledge to knowledge. In this scenario, the workers –qualified or not– lose relevance.
If you’re in an office while reading this, it’s very likely that your position may be freely defined as adding value to a series of data that you collect or that’s supplied to you by other colleagues. You’re an accountant, analyst, communicator, supervisor, manager. Your job is to generate information. The company you work for and our society are shaped that way partly due to the ideas that Peter Drucker developed in the 60’s.
If you received any type of formal training to perform your job, then Drucker probably had something to do with it. If you feel that without you there are parts of the company that wouldn’t run properly, that was Drucker. If you work in a company that has the know-how to offer outsourced services to other larger companies, that was Drucker too.
And when you soon quit your job and enter once again this high-rotation labor market in which companies seek knowledge pieces or assets: that was Drucker too.
If you haven’t read Post-Capitalist Society, this interview from back in the day is particularly illuminating. Funny how back then, so long ago, certain things like the digital revolution didn’t seem as obvious as they do now.
So, what do you think? Are you a knowledge worker? Let me know in the comments.