Knowledge Does Not Eliminate Skill: Knowledge without skill is unproductive

exerpt from The Daily Drucker written by Peter F. Drucker

At present, the term “knowledge worker” is widely used to describe people with considerable theoretical knowledge and learning: doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, chemical engineers. But, the most striking growth will be in “knowledge technologists”: computer technicians, software designers, analysts in clinical labs, manufacturing technologists, paralegals. These people are as much manual workers as they are knowledge workers; in fact, they usually spend far more time working with their hands than with their brains.

So, knowledge does not eliminate skill. On the contrary, knowledge is fast becoming the foundation for skill. We are using knowledge more and more to enable people to acquire skills of a very advanced kind fast and successfully. Only when knowledge is used as a foundation for skill does it become productive. For example, surgeons preparing for an operation to correct a brain aneurysm before it produces a lethal brain hemorrhage spend hours in diagnosis before they cut – and that requires specialized knowledge in the highest order. The surgery itself, however, is manual work – and manual work consisting of repetitive manual operations in which the emphasis is on speed, accuracy, uniformity. And these operations are studied, organized, learned, and practiced exactly like any other manual work.

Action Point: Outline the skills required in your work. Analyze and refine these skills for optimum quality and productivity.