After writing The Human Equation about how to manage people for competitive advantage, I would give talks on this material about how to build a high-performance culture. After one such talk, a person walked up to me to tell me that although he had enjoyed the talk, the material was all common sense and he already knew it. At which point I asked him if he or his company implemented what he had learned. The answer, “No, of course not.”
That got me to thinking that organizations “knew” a lot but often didn’t put their knowledge into action—there was a gap between knowing what to do and actually implementing that knowledge. So I enlisted my friend and colleague Bob Sutton to explore this issue. Off we went to do case studies of companies such as General Motors that had developed Saturn and gone into the joint venture, NUMMI, with Toyota to learn how to build better cars more effectively but then had failed to transfer that knowledge into the rest of the company. And GM was not alone in its problems of turning knowledge into action.
This book represents our best diagnosis of the causes of the knowing-doing gap and how to overcome the frequently-observed difficulty in turning knowledge into action.