This book can be so challenging to get and it's such a shame! Ultimately this book is about knowing, expertise, decision making, and the nature of work. Zuboff describes two paper/pulp mills - a traditional versus a state of the art.
In the traditional mill, workers knew their plant and the quality of the pulp by smell, touch, and sound. Their experience, senses, and history informed their decision making. In the state of the art plant, operators made decisions through the use of data displayed on computer screens - they didn't have the same sensory association with plant operations and/or pulp processing as the older workers. Similarly, older workers could not look at a data printout and tell you what the #s meant in terms of plant status, maintenance, or pulp processing.
Zuboff, affords a rich opportunity to understand generational differences in work, knowledge, expertise, and decision making. Workers' ways of knowing and their sense of reality about the way they approach work can be fundamentally different. As a consultant helping clients adopt technology - I found this book invaluable in the specific ways it helped me understand
a) individual differences in learning, knowing, and sense of reality;
b) the very real differences between sensory knowing and data driven understanding;
c) the resistance to change - not just a harrumph but a real sense of disorientation and fear related to a way of knowing and thinking that can be very different;
d) strategies for helping people navigate change and learn new ways such as bridging old ways of thinking and knowing with new ways; the importance of a phased approach rather than all or nothing; and
e) the human side of organizations - this book increased my sensitivity to workers places within what we are doing, their values, and the valuing of their real responses to change.
A truly excellent, eye opening book. I recommend this book for any leader or consultant who leads change, implements projects that introduce workplace changes, or those just interested in understanding worker knowing, learning, and decision making.