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The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action Hardcover – 1 Nov 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (1 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578511240
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578511242
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 346,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Last year in the US 1,700 books were published on business and management, 80,000 students enrolled for MBA courses, corporations spent an estimated US$43 billion on management consultancy and a further US$60 billion went on management training. It is quite clear that there is no shortage of information about how to improve business. But it is equally clear that businesses aren't improving as you would expect if mere knowledge were everything. Somehow there is an important discontinuity between knowledge and implementation.

It is this gap that Stamford academics Jeffrey Roberts and Robert Sutton identify and examine for the first time in this truly outstanding and significant book. Their methodology is cast iron. Given that everybody has equal access to knowledge, it is not the knowledge but the ability to act on it that confers competitive advantage, they argue. Four years in research, with dozens of examples and case studies, they rigorously establish not only that there is a knowledge gap, but that it matters. They then identify possible causes and suggest solutions. But the real power of this book lies not in the robustness of its construction but in its sometimes shocking, always provocative iconoclastic conclusions. "Knowledge management and business schools magnify the problem." "Talk, presentations, planning and making decisions are often a substitute for action." "Measurement obstructs good judgement" and "memory can be a substitute for thinking", they write.

As you may have guessed there are no easy solutions to the knowing-doing dilemma. "The problem is not just costs or leadership or some single organisational practice ... The gap arises from a constellation of factors and it is essential that leaders understand them all." However, they do reveal that "one of the most important insights from our research is that knowledge that is actually implemented is much more to be acquired from learning by doing than from learning by reading, listening or even thinking." In the final chapter, they then outline eight guidelines for action which should they say help to close this gap.

This really is an important book. Fresh, beautifully written and as compulsive a read as any book on management could reasonably be. It is not only a worthy read in its own right, it will add real value to all the other knowledge you acquire. --Alex Benady

From the Publisher

"Close that gap. Read this book." Management General, 2000
Every once in a while a great book leaps upon the stage, receives scant attention, and then starts to fall below the reading public's "radar screen."

This is one of those books: go out of your way to find a copy and read it! Given that "learning companies" and "knowledge workers" were two of the predominant clichés of the 1990s,Pfeffer (a management thinker) and Sutton (an engineer)got together and jointly asked why they couldn't easily find learned companies and brilliant employees? In other words, Pfeffer and Sutton boldly challenged the status quo assumption that the current crop of organizations represent the best of all possible enterprises.

In fact, they aver the opposite:"We wrote this book because we wanted to understand why so many managers know so much about organizational performance, say so many smart things about how to achieve performance, and work so hard, yet are trapped in firms that do so many things they know will undermine performance."

That's how their Preface starts, and from that moment on, this book sings about the status quo traps that snag even the best-intentioned managers.

This is a brash book, a fiery book, a true book. It examines management and organizational realities with a kind but firm eye,willing to impose "tough love" on a profession that is too easily content with gloss and cosmetic commentaries.

The authors slam -- then tell how to correct -- everyday sins such as substituting talk for action, relying on "memory" rather than truly thinking, caving in to fears, and becoming mired in internal competition...The Knowing-Doing Gap is the many readers who might have missed this copyright 2000 book when it quietly appeared mid-99. Close that gap. Read this book.

Top 10 Resources. Management General, April 2000

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