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 / Fourth Quarter 2001 / Issue 25(originally published by Booz & Company)


Best Business Books: Knowledge

Building on both the literature in his field and his experience with clients, Klein provides a practical, empirically sound theory for how to make good decisions in fast-paced environments. Like the other authors’ theories, Klein’s theory is built on an integrated view of learning, knowledge, and people. Klein is unique, however, in unlocking the psychology of individuals and groups to show us the expert way. For example, he explains the importance of communicating intent in team decisions; of trust; of stories, metaphors, and analogies. He warns that although great decision makers are creative, exercises in creativity won’t yield great, insightful decisions. Neither will rational planning. In pointing us to experts — to how they use knowledge to make decisions — Klein helps us avoid the trap of trying to understand knowledge on its own, distinct from its use. From Klein, we learn how to start with the question, the decision, the objective — we learn how to operationalize Handy’s wheel of learning.

In Search of…
Newton? Giants? A practical grand unified theory of knowledge in business? None found yet. However, for practitioners, these four books together provide a powerful foundation: high-level vision and practical advice, business case studies and deep empirical research, Western and Japanese perspectives — all sharing remarkably consistent frameworks about learning, knowledge, technology, decision making, and people.

Instead of an Isaac Newton, perhaps we should be in search of a businessperson — an Alfred Sloan or an Akio Morita — who will create a dominant company using a new organizational model. A company that wins because its clever people do clever things, because they make better decisions, and because the organization itself learns. A knowledge-intensive company that others emulate and that changes the way we live and work. We haven’t seen one yet. Have you?

Jan Dyer, [email protected]
Jan Dyer spent the last 11 years at Booz Allen Hamilton, where she served as the firm’s director of intellectual capital and worked with corporations in a variety of industries. She specializes in the strategic application of knowledge and learning.

Chuck Lucier, [email protected]
Chuck Lucier is senior vice president emeritus of Booz Allen Hamilton. He is currently writing a book and consulting on strategy and knowledge issues with selected clients. For Mr. Lucier’s latest publications, see
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