Minds at Work

"Managing for Success in the Knowledge Economy"

David GrebowSan Francisco, (USA), January 2018 – David Grebow’s presentation, based on his latest bestselling book "Minds at Work: Managing for Success in the Knowledge Economy," will be featured at the iLearning Forum conference January 23,2018.  David Grebow has more 25 years of experience in management consulting and corporate education. His current focus is on what companies must do to adapt to and succeed in the knowledge economy. His groundbreaking research examines companies that are succeeding by replacing old management and learning practices, developed during the previous industrial economy, with a new, more effective approach better suited for today’s global business environment.

What is the most important idea in your "Minds at Work" book?

David Grebow: I think the one idea that stood out for me is that there is a growing worldwide movement of progressive companies that represent a new more successful model for managing and learning. The old model was based on the needs of the previous industrial economy. It was all about improving employee productivity, making things better and faster. The focus was on managing hands. In this new economy, in which we use our minds to perform work, the focus needs to be on managing people in ways that enables them to think and learn, create and innovate, collaborate and communicate and even dream. These new companies depend on people’s ability to use their minds to be successful.


Why is this new knowledge economy model more successful than the old industrial way of doing business?

David Grebow: The research proved that these progressive companies that are managing minds are not plagued by the same problems most other companies around the world are experiencing. Serious and growing problems that include finding and hiring talented people, having them engaged in their work, retaining them after making the investment to bring them into the company. The old industrial model views people as a liability. The new companies have realized that people are an incredibly valuable asset. The new way of managing and learning results in people lining up at the door to be hired, and once they get into these companies, being fully engaged in the work and the company.


What does this mean for different countries?

David Grebow: Each country has come out of the industrial economy with a different set of rules, regulations and guidelines. France is an excellent example. In my research, I found the French Code de Travail, or The Red Book, was written in 1910 and constantly revised during the Industrial Revolution. The key point is that the book is a compendium of what to do to manage hands. The book is 3,324 pages long and growing with over 4,000 articles - 170 pages govern firings, 420 regulate health and security, 50 deals with temp work (not from the gig economy), 85 collective negotiations, with hundreds more for specific industries, wages, overseas departments, everything from hiring to firing to retiring. It was useful at the time because workers needed help to avoid being exploited.

There is very little in The Red Book on what to do to for workers in a company that is managing minds because the company agreements – the worker's contracts - are developed collaboratively and become the de facto law by which everyone in the entire company operates. The examples in my book show how this works. And it does work since the owners of the means of production are everyone in the company since the minds are the means of production. You cannot think about the irreplaceable, unique minds in the same way we thought about interchangeable replaceable hands. The Red Book in the 21st century becomes a roadblock to developing managing mind companies in which people do not need the protection that workers in industrial economy required.


When did you first realize that there was a critical relationship between management, learning, and the success of these progressive companies?

David Grebow: I began looking for companies that were learning cultures, focused on continually learning, communicating and collaborating. The great irony is that the companies I discovered had not intentionally set out become learning cultures, it happened while they were focusing on trying to solve other needs their companies had. These are the progressive companies in the book that are managing minds.


What were some of the characteristics that helped you identify these new companies?

David Grebow: They all share certain key attributes even though they are in different countries and represent a wide range of industries, from software development to broadcast television, food production to automotive parts manufacturing. They believe that sharing knowledge is power instead of the old idea that just having or holding knowledge is power. They support collaborating and communicating instead of the old command and control approach. They practice continuous learning. That means that learning is not only a planned event pushed as a course or online program, but it happens all the time, anytime and anywhere. People pull the information they need when and where they need it. One of the most important and surprising characteristics of these managing minds companies is that people feel fearless at work, they can say what they think, learn and try something new without worrying about being punished, share ideas freely knowing they will be heard. These companies are open and democratic, recognizing that in this new knowledge economy, enabling and empowering people’s minds is the key to success.


What’s the biggest takeaway from you research into this new managing minds approach

David Grebow: The big takeaway is that every company trying to succeed in today’s knowledge economy must learn to change they way they manage people and help them learn. The forces driving change in the world today – technology, automation, AI, globalization – are increasing, and are unstoppable and irreversible. There is no choice anymore. You cannot expect a 19th century industrial era approach to managing and learning to meet the challenges and needs of the 21st century. A little over a year ago, when I started looking at the companies that are managing minds, I found a small number, 30 companies around the world. I thought it might represent a trend. Now there are well over 100 and I believe it has become a global movement that is increasing every year as more and more companies realize they need to change to compete and be successful.