Integrating Knowledge Worker Roles

“Management means doing the things right, leadership means doing the right things Drucker in: (Krames, 2009, p. 125)”. (Kardos, S. 2012).

There are five knowledge worker roles which the author will be investigating. The main aim is to demonstrate and establish if these roles work well within the workplace.

These knowledge worker roles are;

  • Reconnoiter
  • Navigator
  • Handyman
  • Shepherd
  • Gatekeeper

“Knowledge workers have high degrees of expertise, education, or experience, and the primary purpose of their jobs involves the creation, distribution, or application of knowledge. Knowledge workers think for a living. They live by their wits – any heavy lifting on the job is intellectual, not physical. They solve problems, they understand and meet the needs of customers, they make decisions, and they collaborate and communicate with other people during doing their own work. What becomes clear is that by applying their knowledge in new, complex situations, knowledge workers create new knowledge while developing on the job continuously”. (Kardos, S. 2012).


Reconnoiters would be individuals who can detect changes and looking for new opportunities. This would mean that reconnoiter could be someone working in the compliance department. Compliance is always detecting new changes and laws being passed by government. This means that their main function is to ensure that we are always up to date on our processes regarding legislation.

Reconnoiters could also be senior management and directors. These are the individuals who see opportunities in the market and possible areas where the business can thrive. Managers with reconnoiter mentality generally want to see results and numbers. They are quick to identify areas where there could be possible threats and make sure to shift the business away from it as quickly as possible.

“This person acts an early detection system to any changes or threats to the environment. This role also acts as a data gatherer, providing the rest of the team with the data they need to formulate and validate their ideas”. (The Da Vinci Institute. 2016).


The navigator is the person who generally provides direction to the organization. They are clued up on how things like the economy and macro-environment can impact the organization. They tend to work closely with reconnoiters as they need to analyze data together to see if the business is heading in the right direction.

The navigator is also the person who tends to look for ways in which the business can save money or time. This does not necessarily have to be connected to the economy; however, it needs to be in line with the business strategy. Navigators in the authors’ department would be the operations, finance and compliance managers.

“This person is normally identified as a thought leader who takes the core data and enriched sources to interpret and provide new opportunities to the data, so that the team can understand the internal and external forces that will have an impact on their environment”. (The Da Vinci Institute. 2016).


The handyman will consist of the project manager and business analyst in the department. They take the information from reconnoiters’ and navigator and simplify this into a process. They are responsible for ensuring that the correct systems are utilized to carry out the correct process.

The handyman can also be an innovator as they tend to see things that others cannot. They can be people working on the ground doing the daily tasks. They have a more hands on approach to the problem in the workplace and a perfect source for gathering information. These individuals would be the ones that can inform the department of what the system should be able to do and what would satisfy the customers’ needs.

“This person is the practical doer. At times the visionary puts plans and structures into place to ensure that the end outcome is achieved and the operation is effectively maintained”. (The Da Vinci Institute. 2016).


The shepherd would generally be the manager reporting to the head of the department. Shepherds look after smaller teams which make up the department. They have team leaders who assist them in delegating work to the team. Shepherds take the information analyzed by reconnoiters’, navigators and the handyman, and simplify this further to their individual teams.

Think of the shepherd as the subtitles you would get in a movie. Everyone does not understand the jargon used by senior managers hence the team leader and managers are there to interpret that language. They ensure that every individual in the team understands their role and function. They ensure that the team has the necessary tools to perform these functions to the best of their abilities.

“The shepherd is the mediator that facilitates the team to ensure that each role is given equal opportunity to engage and contribute to the process. This role is also integral to knowledge sharing across the team, without this function; there is a chance that the information will be considered in isolation”. (The Da Vinci Institute. 2016).


Gatekeepers could be considered as the training department. They are the ones who take the information received from all the other knowledge roles and provide detailed training about it. This means that they run sessions with the employees in the department. They relay the information in greater detail and conduct detailed user acceptance testing.

They make sure that the employees are well trained regarding the new process and systems which have been innovated. They ensure that further feedback is given back to the other knowledge roles to go back to the drawing board for future changes or enhancements. The gatekeeper ensures that there is continuous feedback from one knowledge role to the other.

“The gatekeeper is the final role in the community of practice and acts as an evaluator. This role controls the flow of knowledge into and out of the team and is instrumental in creating and developing the community of practice. The gatekeeper is the innovations architect”. (The Da Vinci Institute. 2016).

BM Project Solutions
Michael Joseph

Business Management Project Solutions.


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