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

Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton



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Format: Hardcover, 256pp.
ISBN: 9781578511242
Publisher: Harvard Business School Press
Pub. Date: October 1999

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

The market for business knowledge is booming, as companies looking to improve their performance pour billions of dollars into training programs, consultants, and executive education. Why, then, are there so many gaps between what firms know they should do and what they actually do? Why do so many companies fail to implement the experience and insight they've worked so hard to acquire? The Knowing-Doing Gap is the first book to confront the challenge of turning knowledge about how to improve performance into actions that produce measurable results.

Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, well-known authors and teachers, identify the causes of the knowing-doing gap and explain how to close it. The message is clear-firms that turn knowledge into action avoid the "smart talk trap." Executives must use plans, analysis, meetings, and presentations to inspire deeds, not as substitutes for action. Companies that act on their knowledge also eliminate fear, abolish destructive internal competition, measure what matters, and promote leaders who understand the work people do in their firms. The authors use examples from dozens of firms that show how some overcome the knowing-doing gap, why others try but fail, and how still others avoid the gap in the first place.

The Knowing-Doing Gap is sure to resonate with executives everywhere who struggle daily to make their firms both know and do what they know. It is a refreshingly candid, useful, and realistic guide for improving performance in today's business. The so-called knowledge advantage is a fallacy - even though companies pour billions of dollars into training programs, consultants, and executive education. The reason is not that knowledge isn't important. It's that most companies know, or can know, the same things. Moreover, even as companies talk about the importance of learning, intellectual capital, and knowledge management, they frequently fail to take the vital next step of transforming knowledge into action. The Knowing-Doing Gap confronts the paradox of companies that know too much and do too little by showing how some companies are successful at turning knowledge into action. Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, identify the causes of the knowing-doing gap and explain how to close it.

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Reviews

"The Knowing-Doing Gap is must reading for us all. Why don't organizations do more of what they already know they should do? The answer isn't lack of smarts or strategy. Pfeffer and Sutton's analysis of the companies who get it right is fascinating and right on the money. Now...will we take action?"
—Bob Waterman, Co-author of In Search of Excellence and Author of What America Does Right


"The Internet economy is not simply an evolution in technology-it's a revolution. The Knowing-Doing Gap will help businesspeople apply their expertise in ways that are well suited for succeeding in this new economy."
—John Chambers, President and CEO, Cisco Systems, Inc.


"Finally, a book that provides valuable insight into the question, Why do most companies know what to do but so few actually do it? It's not so much about strategy, explain the authors; it's all about execution. Thank you, Pfeffer and Sutton!"
—Richard M. Kovacevich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Wells Fargo & Company


"The Knowing-Doing Gap reveals the major obstacles to action that confront people in organizations-from CEOs to entry-level professionals. The authors guide practitioners through the labyrinth of organizational roadblocks and help them turn knowledge into action."
--Deborah Coleman, CEO, Merix Corporation

"Pfeffer and Sutton expose the real reasons businesses fail to compete successfully. The Knowing-Doing Gap is a refreshingly clear guide for turning the learning organization into a doing organization."
—Howard Behar, President, Starbucks Coffee International


 

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About the Authors

Jeffrey Pfeffer is Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Robert I. Sutton is Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. They coauthored The Knowing-Doing Gap.

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Table of Contents

1.Knowing "What" to Do Is Not Enough
2. When Talk Substitutes for Action
3. When Memory Is a Substitute for Thinking
4. When Fear Prevents Acting on Knowledge
5. When Measurement Obstructs Good Judgment
6. When Internal Competition Turns Friends into Enemies
7. Firms That Surmount the Knowing-Doing Gap
8. Turning Knowledge into Action
Appendix
Notes
Index
About the Authors


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