Most helpful critical review
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Contemporary Update on Change Management
on July 4, 2000
`The Knowing-Doing Gap' describes the barriers to turning knowledge or strategy into action based upon surveys, interviews, and case-study evidence spanning many sectors. The problem: US companies annually spend over US$100 billion on training and consulting often failing to improve operations.
The well-referenced and presented chapters span:
* knowing "what" is not enough- evidence, measuring & significance of the knowing-doing gap, and knowledge management projects.
* when talk substitutes for action- presentations, documents, mission statements, planning, smart-talk, smart negative people, business school `bad' training, and complexity & jargon (remedies described include working leaders, simplicity, vocabulary).
* when memory is a substitute for thinking- convention & consistency, culture, history, and need for cognitive closures.
* when fear prevents acting on knowledge- fear as management and the remedies.
* when measurement obstructs good judgement- problematic measures, short-term financial focus, over-complexity, and in-process versus outcome measures (remedy- simplicity & focus on critical elements).
* when internal competition turns friends into enemies- undermining loyalty & teamwork & knowledge sharing, and significance of interdependence.
* firms that surmount the knowing-doing gap- British Petroleum, Barclays Global Investors, and New Zealand Post.
* turning knowledge into action- 8 guidelines including- company philosophy, knowing from doing and teaching others how, action counts more than elegant plans & concepts, forgiving mistakes from action, drive out fear, fight external competitors, measure what matters, and lead by example.
Weakness include the subjectively dry "unemotional/unengaging" style of writing; the verbatim repetition of some sections in different chapters (perhaps a re-edit could reduce page count by 25% without losing content); occasional errors in use of sector-specific jargon; and relatively shallow treatment of significant subject- perhaps a deeper follow-up text with case-study evidence of whether the recommendations actually work together is due? Also the book neglects attention to dot.com enterprises- which are through self-fulfilling prophecies- transforming the global business landscape.
Overall a timely text, addressing a real-problem, that is worth shelf-space. Despite that, to this reviewer there were no new `aha' moments- as the findings/recommendations repeated many already existing in change management business texts spanning the last 3 decades.