Knowledge workers are assets not costs
This is an excellent article that touches on some many areas including Amazon (again) and their structure. However the most interesting part for me is the section on the way to view knowledge workers in business:
“Knowledge-worker productivity requires that the knowledge worker is both seen and treated as an ‘asset’ rather than a ‘cost.’ It requires that knowledge workers want to work for the organization in preference to all other opportunities.”
“Knowledge workers [unlike manual workers] own the means of production. That knowledge between their ears is a totally portable and enormous capital asset.”
“Economic theory and most business practice sees manual workers as a cost. To be productive, knowledge workers must be considered a capital asset. Costs need to be controlled and reduced. Assets need to be made to grow.”
And this was probably the most profound statement for me:
In his 2001 book "Management Challenges for the 21st Century" Peter Drucker pointed out that knowledge workers must be managed as if they were volunteers, because in fact, they are volunteers.
I work as a contractor in the IT arena and so I very much fall into the knowledge worker category. It would be nice if all companies had this view and I think it would make a huge impact on their success.