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The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action Hardcover – January 15, 2000
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Among the companies that Pfeffer and Sutton say do it right: General Electric, the Men's Wearhouse, SAS Institute, Southwest Airlines, Toyota, and British Petroleum. The book, based on four years of research, is broken into chapters with titles such as "When Talk Substitutes for Action," "When Fear Prevents Acting on Knowledge," "When Internal Competition Turns Friends into Enemies," and "Turning Knowledge into Action." Each chapter contains tips on what to do and what to avoid, and provides examples of how a lethargic company culture can be transformed. The Knowing-Doing Gap is a useful how-to guide for managers looking to make changes. Yet, as Pfeffer and Sutton point out, it takes more than reading their book or discussing their recommendations. It takes action. --Dan Ring
"Every once in a while a great book starts to fall below the radar screen. This is one of those books:go out of your way to find a copy and read it!" -- Management General, Spring, 2000
"The authors never leave a topic without prescribing seven or eight steps that companies can take." -- The New York Times, June 25th, 2000
"This volume will quickly assume a place among the classic, frequently cited managment books." -- National Productivity Review, Winter 1999
"Why can't we get anything done? Pfeffer and Sutton [answer this question]in their useful book." -- Fast Company, June 2000, Story by Alan Webber
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Top Customer Reviews
If you have ever been frustrated by the way people in your company act or by yourself and your inability to get anything done, read this insight into what causes the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it.
It all comes down to fear. If you follow the advice in the book and drive out fear, both within yourself and in those around you, things will get done. Deming, it seems, was right.
I read this at the same time as reading David Schwartz' excellent "Magic of Thinking Big". Put the two works together and the penny will suddenly drop for you, as it did for me.
From that moment forth, you will see how knowing things just isn't enough. Unapplied ideas are simply worthless vapour. What counts is getting stuff done. Results are everything.
Follow the advice in this book and you can get things done too.
If you want a hand-holding spoon-feeding checklist, look elsewhere. The authors show specifically why this kind of "checklist" attitude is a BIG part of the problem (notice how the summaries they provide at the end of each section pull together their main points nicely without oversimplifying them). However if you're looking for a guide to help you to actually think your way through these kinds of problems, as they beset you in your organizational life (and possibly in your personal life), then this is a definite "must read."
For these reasons (and both because of and in spite of its critique of MBA education practices), this book will become definite required reading in our core management course.
In the Matrix, when Neo wants to learn kung-fu all he has to do is upload a fighting module. A few seconds later and he's sparring with Morpheus in a virtual dojo. Living in a computer simulation and being bred as an energy source for a machine master-race has its disadvantages, but at least you get to learn stuff fast. Here in the real world, much knowledge is gained the hard way - by doing. You can't just upload it. Or store it, index it or e-mail it around.
This is one of the factors behind what Jeff Pfeffer and Bob Sutton call 'the knowing-doing gap'. In this book, Pfeffer and Sutton examine why companies don't do what they know they should. The first problem is language. 'Knowledge' is a noun, so we treat knowledge as a concrete object we can manipulate, like steel or books. In reality, it's a process; the process of riding a bike, speaking French or running a company. Hence companies don't truly know what they claim they do. They might have their mission statements written down on small, laminated cards; and they might say - and even believe - that people are their most valuable assets, but this isn't true knowledge, and won't become so until they act.
Pfeffer and Sutton give plenty more reasons too. Here are just a handful:
An emphasis on talk, rather than action. It's easier to judge people on what they say than what they actually do, and that's often how we hire, reward and promote. The guy with the quick put-downs, rapid-fire banter and sarcastic comments is perceived as smarter than the quiet one in the corner who bothers nobody, knuckles down and gets stuff done.
If action is harder than talking, then mindless action is harder than thoughtful action.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a fantastic book that demonstrates with real-world examples of how individuals or teams can help transform their organizations from an organization that simply knows... Read morePublished 4 months ago by James Aaron Brown
The Knowing-Doing Gap is an insightful book for anyone that works as a management professional. As many of us have experienced in our careers, the knowing-doing gap can be a... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
Used book came in good shape. Made the online class much better and has useful information that may be applied to the business world.Published 19 months ago by Jessica Watson
As a member of two non-profit Boards, this book brought some light and direction to our plans for the future.Published on November 1, 2013 by Edward L.Koffenberger/ Mary Ann Koffenberger
After finishing this book I felt a bit let down that there really isn't a silver bullet to taking more action. Read morePublished on May 22, 2012 by Robert Kirk
The main premise of this book as the authors best summarize it is: "Why knowledge of what needs to be done frequently fails to result in action or behavior consistent with that... Read morePublished on March 24, 2012 by O. Halabieh
The success of an organization depends to a large extent on the implementation of strategies. However, Pfeffer and Sutton argue that there is a large gap between what an... Read morePublished on February 20, 2011 by Frank Roettgers