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"When you talk to yourself, who exactly is talking to whom?"

 

Biography

Larry Prusak [CV] is a researcher and consultant and was the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Knowledge Management (IKM). This was a global consortium of member organizations engaged in advancing the practice of knowledge management through action research. Larry has had extensive experience, within the U.S. and internationally, in helping organizations work with their information and knowledge resources. He has also consulted with many U.S. and overseas government agencies and international organizations (NGO's). He is currently on the faculty of Columbia University teaching in their Information and Knowledge Strategy Program.

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Speaking

I was on a baseball team
when I was in eighth grade. My class only had nine boys, so they had to put me on the team to have enough players. Because of an injury I suffered at birth, I was by far the worst hitter on the team. I couldn't hit at all (though I could run and field).

My teammates gave me a hard time, of course: They were fiercely competitive and wanted every edge they could get. When my father saw how unhappy I was about the situation, he bought me a copy of Ted Williams' The Art of Hitting. My father didn't know much about baseball but he loved books, so it was the one thing he could think of doing to help me.

Ted Williams understood hitting as well as any man alive, and he tried to put what he knew into his book. I couldn't hit, but I could read, so I read it twice -- practically memorized it.

Result: I still couldn't hit much. I made only a very modest improvement, perhaps based on a newfound confidence. Of course, I wasn't very much of an athlete. But even if I were, I'd say that hitting can't be taught by a book. The skills involved are to o complex and subtle, too internal; they can't be expressed in words that can be put to much use.

This is a story I tell people who insist that knowledge can be codified, that humans are interchangeable. There are still many facets of life and work that are art not science, and wise managers understand how to manage both.

We are not machines.

That being said, we can build the social processes to facilitate knowledge exchanges between people -- experts and novices, and even more importantly, build a culture that values shared learning.

Ask me How >>

  • How can knowledge be nurtured in organizations?
  • How is trust built throughout an enterprise?
  • How is a knowledge-oriented corporate culture created?
  • How can employees be encouraged to make efficient, productive, and innovative decisions?
  • How do some global companies build successful knowledge projects, while others fail?
  • How can managers harness the experience and wisdom within their organizations more effectively?

Books


Storytelling in Organizations : Why Storytelling Is Transforming 21st Century Organizations and Management by John Seely Brown, Laurence Prusak, et al


What's the Big Idea? Creating and Capitalizing on the Best New Management Thinking
by Thomas H. Davenport, Laurence Prusak, H. James Wilson.


Working Knowledge by Thomas H. Davenport, Laurence Prusak


Knowledge in Organizations (Resources for the Knowledge-Based Economy) by Laurence Prusak


In Good Company: How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work by Don Cohen, Laurence Prusak


Information Ecology: Mastering the Information and Knowledge Environmentand Capitalizing on the Best New Management Thinking by Thomas H. Davenport, Laurence Prusak

 
   

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