Pfeffer and Sutton

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This review was submitted by mauzenne.

I was hoping that this book  - The Knowing-Doing Gap,  by Pfeffer and Sutton - was going to be great.  I mean, really great - the kind that makes me stay up late one night finishing it, and then another week of nights writing and re-writing my own book.

It is not.  I don't recommend it.

I thought that it was going to talk about something that I've been noticing for years.  So many companies (managers within them, of course) talk about what to do, and seem to know what to do, but when one peeks inside, there doesn't seem to be the evidence that they're actually doing it.   I suspect you've felt this too.

Mr. Pfeffer is a brilliant management thinker and consultant, and I routinely love his work.  And I'm not saying here that he didn't do exactly what his title suggested.  But it still was a great disappointment.  [Although the sub-title, "How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action" is misleading, in my opinion.]

The reason I was disappointed is that (almost) ALL the book does is catalog the gap.  It basically says, yes, there's a gap - companies seem to act as if they "know" what to do, but don't seem to be doing it.  They mention reasons such as fear, memory as a substitute for thinking, internal competition, and measurement.

But the book does not tell us what the solution is, or what we should do about it.  This felt quite academic, and not terribly valuable to most managers.  Remember: utility is what I'm looking for.  What do you want me to do?  How do I use this?  There are two chapters at the end of the book that try, but they don't get there, in my opinion.

If you want to know whether (according to their survey/research) there is a gap, this book is for you.  If you already know that, and I suspect you do, save the time and money.

And a small caveat: Mr. Pfeffer is very good at what he does.  Do not put other or future books of his in this category as a heuristic response to my comments on this one book.