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

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  289 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Why 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 Pfe ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 29th 1999 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published 1993)
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The basic premise of this book is perfectly aligned with my business philosophy - we, as managers, essentially know what to do, we just don't do it often enough. I read lots and lots of business books and in the end, I usually come to the same conclusions: I've heard most of what I've just read, the ideas are variations of a few simple philosophies, I'm energized to go out and do something. What I've realized is that by simply reminding myself how simple business is, I'm motivated to go out and ...more
as somebody who dabbles in knowledge management as part of my job, this book has helped me recognize the processes that cause problems in my company and identify ways in which I may be able to change those issues. However, it is a company-wide effort to enact changes. All in all this is the best knowledge management book I read in my search for a good one.
Omar Halabieh
The main premise of this book as the authors best summarize it is: "Why knowledge of what needs to be done frequently fails to result in action or behavior consistent with that knowledge. We came to call this the knowing-doing problem - the challenge of turning knowledge about how to enhance organizational performance into actions consistent with that knowledge. This book presents what we learned about the factors that contribute to the knowledge doing gap and why and how some organizations are ...more
Jan 15, 2008 Carrie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: journalism managers
A number of important insights presented in a very simple and straightforward (i.e. not very academic, although the authors are both professors at Stanford) way. Good for them. They make a strong case that least internal not all it's cracked up to be. I also liked their presentation of studies on self-fulfilling prophecy...e.g. if leaders/teachers EXPECT a certain group of students/employees to do well, bada bing, they tend to actually do so. Interesting.

This is one of the best management books that I've read. It really gets to the heart of what holds organizations back from learning and performing. I found it really relevant at the time I was working with AIESEC; when it felt like all the people in the organization were doing was just talking about doing something, but not actually bringing what was in our minds alive in our every day. It's quite useful from the perspective of what types of systems can be put into place to support individuals i ...more
Alex Jonas
This book did a great job of presenting an important idea in business, the knowing-doing gap, something that probably deserves a great deal more attention than it gets. People are really focused on knowing what the right thing to do for their business is, but no one seems to give much thought to the fact that people might already know what to do, but not be doing it. This books points out a lot of reasons why people might not be doing what they know they should do, with some ideas that might be ...more
Dec 16, 2007 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: employees of companies that struggle with the truth
Another topic in which I am in the middle of currently, but so far, it is hitting the nail on the head.

Being from an industry that contains everyday professed experts, I have found it hard and discouraging to see the amount of "managers" that roam the offices today without a background or clue as too how things are to be implemented. Sitting through meeting after meeting in which these said managers proclaim change and growth through "learned" or "read" tactics, I know first hand how the gap wi

Not bad, but nothing really new or terribly insightful. Expected more from Pfeffer. It's an ok book on org change, but it's too boringly written and its cases lack the right level of detail and supporting data to avoid being simply generic and quickly forgettable. The quotes are particularly bad; they tend be to be repetitive, vague, meaningless or too abstract.

I find that better writers (such as the Heath brothers) can bring these org change themes to life in more impactful ways.
Lamec Mariita
This book is a must read for anyone struggling to implement new strategies. What's amazing about the a book is that most of it is actually common sense. It uncovers some common mistakes we do but we're afraid to correct them. It's very helpful in linking strategy to action. It's straight forward and easy to read. It's a must read for every business leader who wants to get out from under knowing what to do and move to doing the things that need to be done to move their organization forward.
An excellent reminder of some of the factors that get in the way of corporate success - when people (incl senior leadership) at a company know what to do, but are unable to execute their plans.

The key factors that they discuss are: talk substituting for action, memory substituting for thinking, fear preventing acting on knowledge, measurement obstructing good judgement, and internal competition turning friends into enemies.
Ani Huỳnh
An innovation book that every executives should read!
Barbara Lovejoy
I felt I had a fairly good understanding of this dilemma but this book truly opened my eyes. I have a better understanding of what the barriers are and how to address them. This will be extremely helpful for our Esperanza Elementary charter school.
Ed van der Winden
I wholeheartedly agree with the author's. However, in the end I expected a little more than an endless row of examples. I would have liked some theory or some more conclusions.
Juan Moreno
One of the most influential business books I've read. Gets to the root causes of why organizations fail to act on what they know is right.
Mar 10, 2010 Riggs added it
Viele Bericht über Unternehmen und Erfahrungen. Ich konnte jetzt nicht sehr viel daraus ziehen, aber prinzipiell wichtiges Thema.
Excellent book that can help to become better in what ever industry you work. Strongly recommend for low and mid level managers.
It's a little dry and academic, but has good information about doing stuff instead of talking about it.
This book was included in my book: The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
Alyssa Hudak
have to read for one of my MBA classes
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Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University where he has taught since 1979. He is the author or co-author of thirteen books including The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First; Managing with Power; The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action; Hidden Value: How Great ...more
More about Jeffrey Pfeffer...
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