Filed under: Book & product reviews
What’s the Big Idea?
Thomas H. Davenport, Laurence Prusak
The concept of this book is a fascinating one. Rather than just looking at a single “great idea”, it explores the “marketplace of great ideas”, investigating what makes a good idea, how to select these ideas, and how best to put them into practice. In an age when gurus are all too commonplace, this is a topic of considerable interest.
The book promises to cover a number of important topics, including:
- distinguishing promising ideas from rhetoric
- refining ideas to suite an organisation’s particular needs
- packaging and selling the idea internally
- ensuring successful implementation
I found this book to be an enjoyable and easy read. There is extensive use of case studies, examples and quotes (drawn from the authors’ researches) which gives the book a strong “narrative” feel. It is also written in a casual and no-nonsense way. Even when having to read it on planes and in brief moments stolen away from other activities, it wasn’t hard to get through this book.
The book works through all the issues from the role of gurus, to the key player in this book, the “idea practitioners”. It is hard to disagree with anything presented in this book, and the coverage of the subject is good.
Despite that, when I turned the last page of the book, I found myself going back to the dust jacket to double-check what I was supposed to have learnt. Revisiting the four bullet-points listed above, I don’t feel that these were covered powerfully enough to change my current practices, or to give me any deeper insight into the nature of things.
In summary, I think the authors were on to a great idea when they came up with this book, but despite all their research, weren’t able to uncover any startling insight. The book was written anyway, and while it’s a pleasant and interesting read, it doesn’t necessary add a lot of value beyond introducing the concept of the “idea practitioner”.
If you are new to the field of management theories or guru presentations, definitely read this book. If you’ve been through it all before several times, I don’t think you’ll learn anything new.
Overall score: 5/10