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Review: Wellsprings of Knowledge
Dorothy Leonard-Barton, Wellsprings of Knowledge: Building and Sustaining the Sources of Innovation (Harvard Business School Press, 1995, 334 pages, $29.95)
Barton's book is itself a "wellspring" for subsequent books and articles on knowledge management. Along with Nonaka and Takeuchi's The Knowledge Creating Company, it is one of the most frequently cited works -- and justly so. The book dissects the product development processes of different companies to reveal the factors that promote and inhibit innovation. In so doing, it uncovers a treasure trove of knowledge base publishing possibilities. Although the focus is on scientific and engineering innovation, the principles described are applicable to other kinds of businesses.
Two sides of a coin: core capabilities/core
While Part I is interesting, Part II contains the book's "meat and potatoes." It's here that Barton provides insights into key innovation activities: shared problem solving, implementing new tools and techniques, experimenting and prototyping, absorbing external knowledge, and learning from the market. Here are some gems.
Developing shared problem solving
Other techniques for managing specialization include:
Getting more from experimentation and
Absorbing knowledge from outside the
Learning from the market
Innovating in developing countries
Barton's book is valuable in two ways. First, it gives a detailed rationale for knowledge management and a guided tour of the terrain to be covered. Second, it shows through examples and case histories how real companies have grappled with the issues. It's a must-read for knowledge managers and knowledge base publishers. Created on February 1, 1998 l Updated on August 10, 2012