In the 21st century business world does a person primarily exist as a physical presence or as a collection of data in the minds of others? Since people are the creators and users of IC, Frederick Taylor may come back albeit in a different form, he had the right idea but the wrong approach.

A lot of businesspeople focus intensely on information technology, many enamored of having the fastest computer with the greatest number of functions, the best alignment between IT strategy and overall corporate strategy. This focus leads to structural definitions of intellectual capital, as discussed in another section of this site. It is important to remember that all IT aside, humans are the creators and users of intellectual capital, its suppliers and demanders. It is therefore important to consider what role humans play in the creation, distribution and use of IC.

Adult humans have long existed as physical presences, perhaps 5 or 6 feet tall by 2 feet wide. Consideration of this physical presence is important in a business environment when it comes to the field of ergonomics, designing functional office spaces and the like. In addition to being a physical presence a human also exists virtually, as a collection of data. This has become clear with the pervasive nature of the internet, many online personas are created every day but this sort of representation is not of primary interest when considering intellectual capital. This is so because humans have existed virtually since long before the internet was created. Each and every person on Earth exists virtually, not on the internet, but in the minds of other people. Each person is represented by data in the minds of others and should consider the nature and content of these data and how they are used by others.

In the Information Age it really and truly does matter what people think of you. Thought produces intellectual capital and therefore value, the modern equivalent of Industrial Age physical labor producing physical capital. In your company, how are you represented in the minds of others? of your peers? your superiors? your customers? Given your virtual existence in their minds, are these people more or less likely to share information with you, to make it easier for you to create and use IC? It is well known that open lines of communication are important to create a productive environment and fundamentally this is why IC is the dominant creator of value in the 21st century, information must be shared between those working together. You exist in other people's minds and they exist in yours, if these virtual representations differ from reality then your company has a problem, the bigger and more common the difference the bigger the problem. This is particularly true for those in management or other leadership positions, people who are responsible for ensuring that value creation is maximized. Given these truths, businesspeople should take some time to consider the true nature of their existence and how it helps or hinders value creation.

Since humans are the creators and users of intellectual capital consideration should be given to developing  guidelines for maximizing human productivity. Frederick Taylor considered these matters during the early 20th century, he conducted time and motion studies to try and find ways to maximize productivity. Taylor looked through the old prism of the Industrial Age, he viewed humans as physical capital akin to machines, figuring that there were certain physical movements that were inherently more efficient and effective than others, certain ways of doing things that would boost output. Taylor conducted many trial-and-error studies, using basic scientific principles to determine how best to utilize the human machines in the production line.

Looking through the new prism of the Information Age we can see that Taylor had the right idea but the wrong approach. Taylor had the right idea in applying scientific investigation and analysis to human performance but he took the wrong approach in treating humans as physical capital, as machines laboring to produce physical goods. While the production of physical capital created value during the Industrial Age and Taylor's approach was correct at that time, today the great value of humans is in the production of intellectual capital. So, we should use Taylor's ideas of scientific management in combination with a new approach that views humans as computers producing information. This approach is logical since our brains are biochemical computers, with circuit pathways (neurons), memory storage and variable processing speeds.

Applying Taylor's scientific management to the production of IC involves considerations of how to maximize the brain's performance. A company should therefore develop guidelines to do with sleep, hydration and nutrition. These guidelines will help to maximize human abilities to create, synthesize, receive and use intellectual capital. For example, fatigue and the resulting decrease in IC production is often the result of insufficient hydration levels so the venerable office water cooler may be viewed in a whole new light. It is important to understand that these guidelines must not be presented in the context of command-and-control but rather in the context of empowerment. That is, helping employees maximize their production of IC is for their own good and that of the company, in the 21st century information truly is power so brain performance guidelines will literally empower employees, help their biochemical computers to function more efficiently and effectively. Conversely, such guidelines would be nearly impossible to monitor and enforce if presented as commands, as control mechanisms and so such an undertaking would be futile. Companies should work with biomedical scientists to develop recommended amounts of sleep and hydration, focused nutritional programs, memory-improvement programs and the like, all geared toward maximizing human performance. Frederick Taylor will come back albeit in a different form, he had the right idea but the wrong approach.