The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action
by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton
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 searching for ways to improve. 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? The authors wondered too, and so they 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.
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 the authors point out, it takes more than reading their book or discussing their recommendations. It takes action.
(This book review was originally published in 2000 as one of the Top 10 Books – Edition 3.)