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The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action

The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action [Kindle Edition]

Jeffrey Pfeffer , Robert I. Sutton
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Every year, companies spend billions of dollars on training programs and management consultants, searching for ways to improve. But it's mostly all talk and no action, according to Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, authors of The Knowing-Doing Gap. "Did you ever wonder why so much education and training, management consultation, organizational research and so many books and articles produce so few changes in actual management practice?" ask Stanford University professors Pfeffer and Sutton. "We wondered, too, and so we embarked on a quest to explore one of the great mysteries in organizational management: why knowledge of what needs to be done frequently fails to result in action or behavior consistent with that knowledge." The authors describe the most common obstacles to action---such as fear and inertia---and profile successful companies that overcome them.

Among the companies that Pfeffer and Sutton say do it right: General Electric, the Men's Wearhouse, SAS Institute, Southwest Airlines, Toyota, and British Petroleum. The book, based on four years of research, is broken into chapters with titles such as "When Talk Substitutes for Action," "When Fear Prevents Acting on Knowledge," "When Internal Competition Turns Friends into Enemies," and "Turning Knowledge into Action." Each chapter contains tips on what to do and what to avoid, and provides examples of how a lethargic company culture can be transformed. The Knowing-Doing Gap is a useful how-to guide for managers looking to make changes. Yet, as Pfeffer and Sutton point out, it takes more than reading their book or discussing their recommendations. It takes action. --Dan Ring

Last year in the US 1,700 books were published on business and management, 80,000 students enrolled for MBA courses, corporations spent an estimated US$43 billion on management consultancy and a further US$60 billion went on management training. It is quite clear that there is no shortage of information about how to improve business. But it is equally clear that businesses aren't improving as you would expect if mere knowledge were everything. Somehow there is an important discontinuity between knowledge and implementation.

It is this gap that Stamford academics Jeffrey Roberts and Robert Sutton identify and examine for the first time in this truly outstanding and significant book. Their methodology is cast iron. Given that everybody has equal access to knowledge, it is not the knowledge but the ability to act on it that confers competitive advantage, they argue. Four years in research, with dozens of examples and case studies, they rigorously establish not only that there is a knowledge gap, but that it matters. They then identify possible causes and suggest solutions. But the real power of this book lies not in the robustness of its construction but in its sometimes shocking, always provocative iconoclastic conclusions. "Knowledge management and business schools magnify the problem." "Talk, presentations, planning and making decisions are often a substitute for action." "Measurement obstructs good judgement" and "memory can be a substitute for thinking", they write.

As you may have guessed there are no easy solutions to the knowing-doing dilemma. "The problem is not just costs or leadership or some single organisational practice ... The gap arises from a constellation of factors and it is essential that leaders understand them all." However, they do reveal that "one of the most important insights from our research is that knowledge that is actually implemented is much more to be acquired from learning by doing than from learning by reading, listening or even thinking." In the final chapter, they then outline eight guidelines for action which should they say help to close this gap.

This really is an important book. Fresh, beautifully written and as compulsive a read as any book on management could reasonably be. It is not only a worthy read in its own right, it will add real value to all the other knowledge you acquire. --Alex Benady


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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Should I give this book a 5 instead of 4? 10. Mai 2000
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
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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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Challenges of Implementing Strategies 20. Februar 2011
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The success of an organization depends to a large extent on the implementation of strategies. However, Pfeffer and Sutton argue that there is a large gap between what an organization knows and what an organization really does. They claim that although most of the time organizations and managers know what they should do in order to perform better, they do not put their knowledge into practice nor implement their ideas. In earlier years, also other authors such as Mintzberg and Nutt pointed out that implementing a strategy is not always realized in the straightforward way it was planned during the formulation of the strategy. They maintain that this is due to dividing the strategic process into two incoherent stages: the strategy formulation and strategy implementation. This division can lead to the failure of a strategy, because the interrelation between the two processes is ignored and the learning curve neglected. Pfeffer and Sutton claim that the implementation of a strategy must already be considered and addressed during the strategy formulation in order to find out if the strategy is feasible and to make it less prone to error.

Pfeffer and Sutton state that the challenge of implementing strategies successfully does not lie in finding the right solution to a problem and therefore does not lie in the strategy formulation. They maintain that in the world of business there are not many secrets left which could reveal how to reach optimal performance. What separates the wheat from the chaff is therefore the ability to act and to implement strategies rather than knowing them.

Pfeffer and Sutton provide eight steps with 'The Knowing-Doing Gap' how to turn knowledge into action.
Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Über die fatalen Auswirkungen von Bonuszahlungen! 6. Januar 2010
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Sehr genau beobachtet und intelligent aufbereitet haben Pfeffer und Sutton vermeintlich selbstverständliches Managementverhalten und Managementpraktiken. Durch viele verblüffende Erkenntnisse ist es gut zu lesen. Dass z.B finanzielle Anreize zu fatalen Folgen führen - in Unternehmen und in der Gesellschaft - wissen wir nicht erst seit der Wirtschafts- und Finanzkrise. Hier wird gut erklärt, warum das so ist.
Auch der Wunsch, nur die Besten einzustellen und damit eine besseren Organisation (gerne auch als exzellent bezeichnet im Managementjargon)zu bekommen, ist eine Illusion.
"...warum legen Firmen so viel Wert darauf, die besten Leute zu bekommen und zu halten aber vernachlässigen gleichzeitig den Aufbau und die Beibehaltung einer guten Organisation?" (S.99)
Der beste Tipp der beiden Professoren: Bleiben Sie skeptisch gegenüber 'Managementinnovationen'! Hochaktuell!
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The virtues of clear thinking 23. März 2000
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
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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Die neuesten Kundenrezensionen
5.0 von 5 Sternen ... a new way to look at old challenges
This book opened my eyes to look in another way at challenges that I have thought about quite some time. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 26. Januar 2009 von MightyMouse
5.0 von 5 Sternen Packed with Knowledge!
Comedian Bill Cosby once sang a metaphorical ditty about a man who sat on the railroad tracks each day, only to be hit by a train. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 20. Juni 2005 von Rolf Dobelli
3.0 von 5 Sternen Update Overview on Optimal Change Management
'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. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 1. August 2000 von Prof David T Wright
3.0 von 5 Sternen Contemporary Update on Change Management
'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. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 5. Juli 2000 von Prof David T Wright
4.0 von 5 Sternen ...And then the penny dropped....
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. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 12. März 2000 von Perpetual Skeptic
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Power of Acting
In "The Knowing-Doing Gap", Robert Sutton and Jeffrey Pfeffer show us the power of taking action -- just doing it -- within the corporate setting, whether it be defining... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 29. Januar 2000 von Customer
5.0 von 5 Sternen An excellent guide for linking strategy to action
As a consultant working with various companies, I found the content of this book very useful in providing a framework for strategic planning sessions. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 4. Januar 2000 von Susan L Jackson
5.0 von 5 Sternen A very good addition for a well-balanced management library
I found this work to contribute a much-needed balance to the vast number of books that only deal with strategy recommendations; this text in contrast provides ample case studies... Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 4. Dezember 1999 veröffentlicht
5.0 von 5 Sternen A well-written book that's right on the money
I purchased this book after reading the authors' Harvard Business Review article on the "smart talk trap. Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 22. November 1999 veröffentlicht
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knowledge that is actually implemented is much more likely to be acquired from learning by doing than from learning by reading, listening, or even thinking. &quote;
Markiert von 34 Kindle-Nutzern
Knowledge management systems rarely reflect the fact that essential knowledge, including technical knowledge, is often transferred between people by stories, gossip, and by watching one another work. &quote;
Markiert von 27 Kindle-Nutzern
ONE OF THE MAIN BARRIERS to turning knowledge into action is the tendency to treat talking about something as equivalent to actually doing something about it. &quote;
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