Monday, 21 March 2005

What's the Big Idea?

Is interest in innovation on it's way back? A couple of people have separately raised the issue of innovation in organisations recently and coincidentally I'm currently re-reading Tom Davenport and Laurence Prusak's book, What's the Big Idea.

What's the Big Idea is essentially about how new ideas diffuse into organisations through the efforts of what they call idea practitioners. Davenport and Prusak try to demonstrate that there are no faddish management ideas, only faddish ways of adopting them.

One observation they make is that most management fads peak after about five years, but knowledge management (one of my areas of interest) is still going strong and somewhat changed for the better from it's original incarnation. As idea practioners themselves Davenport and Prusak are also quite progressive in picking up on organisational story telling, the current hot topic in KM circles (the book was published in 2003).


  1. Hi James,

    Just finished reading this one, and this was my review of it:

  2. James R. - I'm a Davenport fan so I was a little disappointed to see you give it only 5/10 :-)

    But yes, it is a little light weight but the two key point's I pick up from it are that:

    *It provides more support for the role of boundary spanning not only within but also external to organisations. It's a reminder to over efficient organisation to build in slack time and to give their idea practitioners opportunities to learn and bring in new ideas.

    *Secondly there is an interesting "confession" on pp.168-169 about ignoring people and communities of practice in their early work on process reengineering.

    PS You make it the third person also looking at ideas and innovation again...


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