Top positive review
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If KM seems expensive, try ignorance
on 9 November 2005
I read this book when it was first published in 1998 and recently re-read it, curious to see how well it has held up since then. It has done so to a remarkable extent.
Again, I am reminded of Derek Bok's observation "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."
This is one in a series of several dozen volumes which comprise the "Harvard Business Review Paperback Series." Each offers direct, convenient, and inexpensive access to the best thinking on the given subject in articles originally published by the Harvard Business Review. I strongly recommend all of the volumes in the series. The individual titles are listed at this Web site: [...] The authors of various articles are among the world's most highly regarded experts on the given subject. All of the volumes have been carefully edited. An Executive Summary introduces each selection. Supplementary commentaries are also provided in most of the volumes, as is an "About the Contributors" section which usually includes suggestions of other sources which some readers may wish to explore.
In this volume, we are provided with a variety of perspectives on knowledge management: Peter F. Drucker on "The Coming of the New Organization," Ikujiro Nonaka on "The Knowledge-Creating Company," David A. Garvin on "Building a Learning Organization," Chris Argyris on "Teaching Smart People How to Learn," Dorothy Leonard and Susaan Straus on "Putting Your Company's Whole Brain to work," Art Kleiner and George Roth on "How to Make Experience Your Company's Best Teacher," John Seely Brown on "Research That Reinvents the Corporation," and James Brien Quinn, Philip Anderson, and Sydney Finkelstein on "Managing Professional Intellect: Making the Most of the Best." Listing the article titles correctly indicate the nature and scope of the specific subjects offered.
Quite true, some of the material is dated and inevitably so, given the elapsed time since the articles were published in the Harvard Business Review. However, in my opinion, the principles advocated and the core strategies recommended remain relevant to the contemporary marketplace. For example, Drucker notes that "to remain competitive -- maybe even to survive -- businesses will have to convert themselves into organizations of knowledge specialists." Garvin presents an especially informative analysis of Xerox's six-step problem-solving process which addresses questions to be answered, expansion/divergence issues, contraction/convergence issues, and "next steps" after implementation. Leonard and Straus rigorously examine the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator process, including within their narrative a brilliant overview of the MBTI©. Indeed, readers are provided with rock-solid material throughout each article.
For less than the cost of breakfast in an upscale Manhattan restaurant, each volume in this series provides an intellectual feast. It remains for each reader to determine, of course, which of the volumes will be most nutritious to her or his appetite. Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out Carla O'Dell's If Only We Knew What We Know: The Transfer of Internal Knowledge and Best Practice, Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline and The Dance of Change, Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak's What's the Big Idea?: Creating and Capitalizing on the Best New Management Thinking and also their Working Knowledge, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton's The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action, and Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi's The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation.