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The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action Unknown Binding – December 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Pr (December 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578512964
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578512966
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,146,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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A compelling read.
Customer
Certainly in modern hi-tech work people need to be skilled, and know how to do their work well.
talkaboutquality
This book is a must read for anyone struggling to implement new strategies!
Susan L Jackson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Susan L Jackson on January 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a consultant working with various companies, I found the content of this book very useful in providing a framework for strategic planning sessions. One of the biggest challenges for executive leadership teams is to move from smart talk to action. Using the principles from this book, I've found leadership teams now focused not only on strategic thinking but also on translating that thinking into action. In addition, the Harvard Business Review article, "The Smart Talk Trap", was excellent pre-reading for executives prior to the strategic planning session. The case studies provided real life examples that leaders can relate to. This book is a must read for anyone struggling to implement new strategies! I intend to continue to use it with executive leadership teams.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Perpetual Skeptic on March 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I think it was the late Frank Zappa who once said that the most plentiful element in the universe was not hydrogen, it was stupidity. Followers of Dilbert will know that the corporate world is full of stupidity, but how does it get there? For me, this book went a long way to explaining why seemingly smart people do such stupid things in business and what to do about it.
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.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Prof. David Owens on March 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It seems like a straightforward question: Why aren't we doing what we know we should be doing? The answer to this question, it would seem, should be both simple and complex; this book's main virtue is that it provides both. Their unblinking examinations of so many obvious and ridiculous screw-ups and mess-ups of all kinds makes the simple foolishness of it all so completely apparent (this collection of examples alone is well worth the cost of admission). But then again (thankfully), they don't oversimplify their discussion of the full range of the "human and organizational frailties" that we've all learned to know and love, and that are at the source of these kinds of problems.
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.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Prof. Kimberly Elsbach on November 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Pfeffer and Sutton provide two important lessons for managers: 1) they define the major impediments to implementing performance-enhancing innovations, and 2) they describe dozens of real-life examples of companies that either fell prey to these impediments or conquered them. The great thing about this book is that it uncovers some common mistakes that we all make, but are afraid to correct. Things like confusing "smart talk" for smart actions and relying on fear as a motivator are easily recognized as dumb managerial thinking. Yet, we've all sat in meetings and conceeded to the speaker with the big words and the intimidating manner - even if we know he or she is wrong - because we're afraid to acknowledge that we know better and because we assume that anyone with this vocabulary must be working as well as he or she is speaking. I've already used this book as an illustration of wrong management practices in my research, and intend to use it in my MBA courses.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book after reading the authors' Harvard Business Review article on the "smart talk trap." I found myself nodding in agreement with the points they made in that article, and their book has proven to be equally insightful. In a clear, concise manner, Pfeffer and Sutton describe (and illustrate) some of the key organizational impediments to action and implementation, and perhaps more importantly, highlight ways to circumvent them. I highly recommend this book, especially to anyone in industry who feels analysis should be a means, not an end. And if you've grown weary of reading about the latest management fads and buzzwords, this book is a refreshing departure.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Kelvin Y C Fung on May 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Yes, I should have given it a 5! I totally agree to other reviewers that this book is a wake-up call for most of us - people who have difficulties in reducing the gap between knowing and doing.
I came across this book when I was preparing a speech to a local non-profit making organisation. Pfeffer and Sutton have identified serveral reasons why people tend to talk more than to do.
(1) When TALK substitutes for ACTION - making presentation instead of doing the actual stuff! (2) When MEMORY is a substitute for ACTION - limited by one's own thought and could not make a leap forward by implementing. (3) When FEAR prevents ACTING ON KNOWLEDGE - Yes! This is what bothers me for years! (4) When MEASUREMENT obstruct GOOD JUDGMENT (5) When Internal Competition turns FRIENDS into ENEMY.
This book is a consolidation of what I will call "common sense". However, with tons of examples given by the two authors, it is a wealth of knowledge.
What is missing is a lack of systematic analysis of the situation. If you are a big fan of Michael Porter (HBR Authors with his famous 5-forces model), you will find this book a bit loose.
Another reason why I have given it a 4 is because after reading Chris Agyris's book (Flawless Advice...) I have become more cautious in accepting advice from the guru. At the end of the day, it is about HOW MUCH WE HAVE CHANGED AFTER READING THIS BOOK! This is exactly why the authors have the last chapter titled as "turning knowledge into action". (I am sure if they didn't do that, they would have been critised for not walking the talk)
This book is worth-reading. Give it a try and see how much changes it brings to you. For me, I have done 3 things differently and achieved excellent results in the last 2 days! )
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