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Thinking for a Living: How to Get Better Performances And Results from Knowledge Workers Hardcover – September 13, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-1591394235 ISBN-10: 1591394236

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (September 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591394236
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591394235
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Thomas H. Davenport is the President’s Distinguished Chair at Babson College and a research fellow at the MIT Center for Digital Business.

More About the Author

Tom Davenport is the President's Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College. He has led research centers at Accenture, McKinsey and Company, Ernst & Young, and CSC Index, and has taught at Harvard Business School, Dartmouth's Tuck School, the University of Texas, and the University of Chicago. He is a widely published author and speaker on the topics of analytics, information and knowledge management, reengineering, enterprise systems, and electronic business. Tom's latest book--coauthored with Jeanne Harris--is Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning, a best-seller that has been translated into 13 languages. Prior to this, Tom wrote, co-authored or edited twelve other books, including the first books on business process reengineering, knowledge management, attention management, and enterprise systems. He has written over 100 articles for such publications as Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, California Management Review, the Financial Times, and many other publications, and has been a columnist for Information Week, CIO, and Darwin magazines. In 2003 he was named one of the world's top 25 consultants by Consulting magazine, and in 2007 and 8 was named one of the 100 most influential people in the IT industry by Ziff-Davis magazines. His blog for Harvard Business Online is

Customer Reviews

This book is very helpful in my class.
Taz Devil
We warmly recommend this book to knowledge workers, those who manage knowledge workers and business leaders who are planning for the future.
Rolf Dobelli
His book is written in a conversational style, so it's easy to read.
Graham Lawes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. McDonald TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Knowledge worker is a term that is used loosely among executives and consultants alike. Everyone wants to be a knowledge worker or already is one, but few understand who they are, what they mean to the company and how do you manage them. Davenports Thinking for a Living is the best discussion of these central issues.

Davenport was co-author of Working Knowledge and the first half of that book is the clearest statement of knowledge management I have yet to read. Building on that work, Davenport offers practical advice backed by research and an understanding of what it takes to work in a knowledge environment. Davenport gives managers and leaders a set of tools to understand the different types of knowledge work and the management techniques to manage each. That recognition makes this a must read for every company.

In terms of the chapters:

Chapter 1: What is a knowledge worker anyway? Sets the context and provides practical definitions for the subject. This chapter is a little academic, but it does set a firm foundation for the rest of the book.

Chapter 2: How knowledge workers differ and the difference it makes. This chapter goes beyond routine descriptions of knowledge work to talk about four models of knowledge work: Transaction, Integration, Expert and Collaboration. This model is used through the latter chapters to help the reader understand and take action.

Chapter 3: Interventions, measures and experiments in knowledge work. This chapter tackles the hardest issues of managing knowledge workers -- how you motivate and measure people who work with their mind and their experience. Here, rather than offer theory, Davenport offers some practical and actionable advice on a tough subject.

Chapter 4: Knowledge work processes.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Graham Lawes on December 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've been thinking for my living for 30 years so I found it useful to get the perspective of a leading management consultant and thinker. Davenport has lived through business reengineering, been part of a large consulting organization and seen inside many corporations, so he knows the subject. His book is written in a conversational style, so it's easy to read. Its content is useful and it contains some valuable insights. In particular, it builds on and fully acknowledges the work of Peter Drucker, who coined the term "knowledge worker," as well as other thought leaders, which is refreshing, since so many authors do not acknowledge that they "stand on the shoulders of giants" and thereby deprive their readers of valuable context and background to their work.

Davenport's book doesn't, in fact, contain as much actionable advice as Drucker's, but it does have some important new findings and new ideas, and brings Drucker's advice up to date. The main conclusion is the same: if we don't improve the effectiveness of our management of people and knowledge, we will find our jobs going to low-cost competitors overseas. However the focus is different. Davenport focuses on knowledge management and particularly personal information management. The substance of his work is based on his consulting experience and particularly on a number of surveys, including one evaluating how 400 people in four types of organization found information and learned to do their work -- and another looking at how 400 individuals managed their personal information. In both cases, a smaller number of highly effective individuals were interviewed to understand in detail how they achieved their results.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In a sense, everyone must "think for a living" in response to questions, problems, opportunities, etc. Davenport focuses his attention on "how to get better performance and results from knowledge workers" and I presume to suggest that everyone involved in an organization's operations should be or helped to become productive "knowledge workers," whatever their specific duties and responsibilities may be. Those who have read any of Davenport's previous books -- notably Working Knowledge and Information Ecology co-authored with Laurence Prusak, The Attention Economy co-authored with John Beck, What's the Big Idea?, Mission Critical -- already know that Davenport is among the most perceptive and eloquent business thinkers on the subject of knowledge management. In my opinion, Thinking for a Living is his most valuable contribution to that subject thus far.

He carefully organizes his material within nine chapters. Throughout his lively and informative narrative, he responds to questions such as these:

* "What's a knowledge worker, anyway?"

* How do knowledge workers differ from others?

* So what?

* Which interventions, measures, and experiments in "knowledge work" are most effective?

* Which are the most important knowledge work processes?

* Which organizational technology is most appropriate to knowledge workers?

* How to develop their individual capabilities?

* What must be invested in knowledge workers' networks and learning?

* Which physical work environment will help to maximize knowledge worker performance?

* How best to manage knowledge workers?
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