I am just about finished reading Garry Kasparov‘s 2007 book, How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves – from the Board to the Boardroom, and have been holding off on posting anything about the book until I do get to the end. But the following passage, starting on page 183, caught my eye as an interesting way to look at and possibly define knowledge work:
Knowing a solution is at hand is a huge advantage; it’s like not having a “none of the above” option. Anyone with reasonable competence and adequate resources can solve a puzzle when it is presented as something to be solved. We can skip the subtle evaluations and move directly to plugging in possible solutions until we hit upon a promising one. Uncertainty is far more challenging. Instead of immediately looking for solutions to the crisis, we have to maintain a constant state of asking, “Is there a crisis* forming?”
Solving a puzzle that you know has a solution may require knowledge, but it is knowledge that already exists. Figuring out if there is a solution to a problem, or even if there is a problem at all, requires the manipulation of existing knowledge, the gathering of new knowledge / information, and the creation of something new.
See my earlier post, A conversation on the nature of knowledge work, and the links in that post for more discussion on those ideas.
* In this context, Kasparov explains, “crisis” is not a disaster, as the word is commonly used, but rather a “turning point, a critical moment when the stakes are high and the outcome uncertain.”
/* &amp;amp;lt;A href=”http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;amp;amp;MarketPlace=US&amp;amp;amp;ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fgbrettmiller-20%2F8005%2Fc73cc550-306b-4fe9-9acb-82b18b9aaf53&amp;amp;amp;Operation=NoScript”&amp;amp;gt;Amazon.com Widgets&amp;amp;lt;/A&amp;amp;gt; */