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Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0875846552
ISBN-10: 0875846556
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When new-car developers at Ford Motor Company wanted to learn why the original Taurus design team was so successful, no one could tell them. No one remembered or had recorded what made that effort so special; the knowledge gained in the Taurus project was lost forever. Indeed, the most valuable asset in any company is probably also its most elusive and difficult to manage: knowledge. Authors Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak assert that learning how to identify, manage, and foster knowledge is vital for companies who hope to compete in today's fast-moving global economy.

Working Knowledge examines how knowledge can be nurtured in organizations. Building trust throughout a company is the key to creating a knowledge-oriented corporate culture, a positive environment in which employees are encouraged to make decisions that are efficient, productive, and innovative. The book includes numerous examples of successful knowledge projects at companies such as British Petroleum, 3M, Mobil Oil, and Hewlett-Packard. Concise and clearly written, Working Knowledge is an excellent resource for managers who want to better harness the experience and wisdom within their organizations.

From Library Journal

Having consulted more than 30 companies involved in KM initiatives, the authors pack their book with information on successful projects and cover issues ranging from corporate culture and employee behavior, to the role of information technology in KM and how to measure a project's success. A practical and thorough approach makes this one of the best books for readers new to the topic.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (January 30, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875846556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875846552
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,112,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While this book summarized the concept of working knowledge with thoughtfulness and communicated these concepts clearly, it is not a comprehensive step-by-step instruction guide for knowledge management. Also, the book examples from organizations seemed more like a portfolio of successes or resume of experiences by the authors rather than serving as a means to more clearly covey working knowledge in action. While the examples did allow the reader to delve into more areas of working knowledge and better understand it in action, the parallel of how one would implement such strategy in one's own workplace was not nearly explored. All that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and feels it serves a good, basic introduction into working knowledge. It covers what knowledge is, who has it, who uses and needs it, what skills are necessary to form and manage it, cultural and other issues related to knowledge management, ways to incorporate it (with or without technology) into the workplace, and what measurements can be used. The measurements area was a little weak. But, again, the absence of true measurement analysis and instruction remind the reader that this is a book intended for a solid look and understanding of knowledge management--not a comprehensive guide for implements and assessing it within an organization. This book provides the information that might persuade someone to value and seek knowledge management. Additional reads and study would be required in order to master it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although knowledge management is an irresistible concept, your progress in this area is anything but assurred. Knowledge management is a hot topic, but it is usually pushed by people who want to sell you something. As a result, you can end up with a lot of technology that will not help you to manage your knowledge. As insurance against getting started in the wrong direction, I suggest you read Working Knowledge as a first step.
Davenport and Prusak have examined 39 organizations that are well above average users of their knowledge. The case histories will give you a practical sense of what works that would take you years of false steps to duplicate in your organization.
Then, even more helpfully, the authors outline the key lessons of these top performers for you to follow. I especially recommend chapter 9 on The Pragmatics of Knowledge Management.
Any new initiative will run into problems and fall back. A great book to read next is The Dance of Change, which focuses squarely on that issue.
Any book has to narrow its focus to be successful. That focus creates a vulnerability. In this book, the vulnerability is not looking far enough ahead for more effective ways to do knowledge management that no one is yet doing. For example, the potential to share knowledge among top best practice organizations is enormous. More attention is needed here.
But do buy, read, and apply the lessons of this book. It's a great place to start!
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Format: Hardcover
If you are like most people, you are a victim of "stalled" thinking about how to make knowledge transfer work better in your organization. As the authors point out, many people believe things that will not work in practice, such as "build it and they will come" from a technology resource sharing perspective that all one needs to do is have the resource available. Unlike the theory about knowledge management, Davenport and Prusak have investigated many organizations to learn what does and does not work. Unlike some books that are no more than a few case histories strung together, the authors concisely use examples to examplify the key points of what they have learned. In their parlance, this book is full of "knowledge" rather than just "information" or "data." They are also astute observers, and notice things that many might miss. A key example of their astuteness is the observation that those who are expected to share must be given some meaningful incentive to do so. In these days of downsizing, rightsizing, etc., those with knowledge often see that knowledge as a security blanket for an economic livelihood. You have to provide some incentive to share that matches or exceeds the incentive to hoard knowledge. You need to read and understand the lessons of this book if you want to get further along in using the knowledge that is available (both in and outside of your company) to achieve greater results. A terrific book on the related subject of how to create new knowledge and use that knowledge to then create much greater results is "The 2,000 Percent Solution."
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By A Customer on January 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I found Davenport's work to be of enormous value as I begin my work in the KM area. This is the first book you should read on KM -- it is concise and provides a very good foundation. I would then highly recommend moving on to Amrit Tiwana's Knowledge Management Toolkit. It's hands-on approach was an excellent follow-up to Davenport, as it lays out specific scenarios, guidelines, and tools for implementing KM in your organization.
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Format: Paperback
Your company is thinking about implementing knowledge management, then "Working Knowledge" is the place to start your research on this topic. Thomas Davenport and Laurence Prusak give you a very practical introduction to this business concept with many "real life" examples that explain the theoretical foundation. Therefore you will earn a deeper understanding of how to generate, codify and transfer knowledge without ever feeling overrun at any point. Especially chapter eight and nine are very helpful when it comes down to get to work with the implementation of a knowledge management system in your company. Here you'll find helpful hints and advice to start out in the right direction and never miss a turn. So don't hesitate put your knowledge to work and do it right the first time!
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