Jerry’s weekly suggested reading…

The authors deal with a question we hear from leaders and HR professionals alike “Why does so much education and training, management consulting, and business research and so many books and articles produce so little change in what managers and organizations actually do?”

We have all heard the phrase “all talk no action”.  Turns out that this notion is a key pitfall in organizations that impact performance.  Unrevealed it will kill off all change efforts and major initiatives.

Knowing “What” to Do is Not Enough

Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I Sutton, Harvard Business School Press 2000.

The authors, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, who teach at Stanford emphasize that the gap between knowing and doing is more important than the gap between ignorance and knowing. Today there are many organizations involved in acquiring and disseminating knowledge. These knowledge brokers specialize in collecting knowledge about management practices, storing it, and then transferring the information to those who need such information about enhancing performance. So better ways of doing things cannot remain secret for long.

But inspite of all these initiatives, companies still find it difficult to implement new ideas. This is because most knowledge management efforts emphasize technology and the storage and transfer of codified information such as facts, statistics, presentations, and written reports. Formal systems cannot store tacit knowledge that is not easily described or codified. Many view knowledge as something tangible and explicit. Companies overestimate the importance of the tangible, specific, aspects of what competitors, for instance, do, and underestimate the importance of the underlying philosophy that guides what they do and why they do it. Although specific practices are obviously important, such practices evolve and make sense only as part of some system that is often organized according to some philosophy. The knowing-doing gap is partly because firms misconstrue what they should be knowing or seeing to know in the first place.