I read – and highly recommend – Garry Kasparov’s book How Life Imitates Chess a couple of years ago, and am thinking I should pick it back up again. If not to read in its entirety, then at least to skim through my dog-ears and margin notes. There are a lot of good insights into the nature of work today, especially what we call knowledge-work.
For example, Jack Vinson’s (@jackvinson) recent post Some qualities of a knowledge worker reminded me of the following excerpt:
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.
This is when knowledge work becomes art.
3 thoughts on “For knowledge workers, solving problems is the easy part”
“This is when knowledge work becomes art.”
The approach you mention applies to both art and science.
There is a definite science to knowledge work, and I actually debated whether to refer to the science of knowledge work along with – or instead of – the art. In my mind was a quote I’ve seen attributed to da Vinci: Study the science of art and the art of science.
I can’t really tell you why I went with the art, except that “work as art” is a theme I’ve been exploring on this blog.
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