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What's the Big Idea? Creating and Capitalizing on the Best New Management Thinking

Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak with H. James Wilson

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Format: Hardcover, 256pp.
ISBN: 9781578519316
Publisher: Harvard Business School Press
Pub. Date: April 2003

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

The Secrets of Successful Idea Practitioners

Change management. Reengineering. Knowledge management. Major new management ideas are thrown at today's companies with increasing frequency—and each comes with evangelizing gurus and eager-to-assist implementation consultants. Only a handful of these ideas will be a good fit for your organization. Choose the right idea at the right time and your company can become more efficient, more effective, and more innovative. Choose the wrong one-or jump on the right bandwagon too late-and your company could fall hopelessly behind.

Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak say that some managers have found ways to improve their odds of success in the risky but essential game of idea management. In What's the Big Idea?, they introduce a largely unsung class of managers they call-idea practitioners-individuals who do the real work of importing and implementing new ideas into businesses. While gurus reap most of the credit when big ideas take flight, Davenport and Prusak's research reveals that idea practitioners actually play the most important role: They turn the right ideas into action.

Drawing from decades of consulting, academic, and business experience and from their novel study of more than 100 of these critical change leaders, What's the Big Idea? offers tools and frameworks for:
  • Assessing the merits of the top business gurus
  • Scanning and tracking emerging ideas in the marketplace
  • Distinguishing promising ideas from rhetoric
  • Refining ideas to suit your organization's particular needs
  • Packaging and selling the idea internally
  • Ensuring successful implementation

Davenport and Prusak prove that there are no faddish management ideas-only faddish ways of adopting them. Encouraging managers to embrace the power of ideas while avoiding the hype that often accompanies them, this pragmatic guide shows how passion and reason combine to build innovative companies.


"In engaging language and with many current examples, Davenport and Prusak offer a convincing explanation of how a handful of organizations are able to consistently derive commercial benefit from the good ideas of their own people and others...a must-read... "
—Steve Kerr, Managing Director and Chief Learning Officer, Goldman Sachs

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About the Authors

Thomas H. Davenport is Executive Director of the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change and a Professor at Babson College. Laurence Prusak is a researcher and consultant who coauthored In Good Company (with Don Cohen) and Working Knowledge (with Tom Davenport) and a Distinguished Scholar at Babson. H. James Wilson is a researcher and writer at the Institute for Strategic Change.

Table of Contents

1Winning with Ideas
How Business Ideas Are Linked to Business Success
2The Idea Practitioners
Who Introduces Ideas to Organizations?
3Ideas at Work
It's the Content That Counts
4The Guide to Gurus
Where Good Management Ideas Come From
5Market Savvy
How Ideas Interact with Markets
6Will It Fit?
How Ideas Interact with Markets
7The Reengineering Tsunami
A Case Story of an Idea That Became a Tidal Wave
8Knowledge Management
A Case Story of a "P Cycle" Movement
9Idea-Based Leadership
How Can Your Organization Lead with Ideas?
Appendix A: A Select Survey of Business and Management Ideas215
Appendix B: The Idea Practitioners217
Appendix C: The Top Two Hundred Business Gurus219
About the Authors241

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