Deep Smarts: How to Cultivate and Transfer Enduring Business Wisdom

Overview

Deep smarts are the engine of any organization as well as the essential value that individuals build throughout their careers. Distinct from IQ, this type of expertise consists of practical wisdom: accumulated knowledge, know-how, and intuition gained through extensive experience. How do such smarts develop? And what happens when people with deep smarts leave a particular job or the organization? Can any of their smarts be transferred? Should they be? Basing their conclusions on a multi-year research project, ...

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Deep Smarts: How to Cultivate and Transfer Enduring Business Wisdom

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Overview

Deep smarts are the engine of any organization as well as the essential value that individuals build throughout their careers. Distinct from IQ, this type of expertise consists of practical wisdom: accumulated knowledge, know-how, and intuition gained through extensive experience. How do such smarts develop? And what happens when people with deep smarts leave a particular job or the organization? Can any of their smarts be transferred? Should they be? Basing their conclusions on a multi-year research project, Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap argue that cultivating and managing deep smarts are critical parts of any leader's job. The authors draw on examples from firms of all sizes and types to illustrate the connection between deep smarts and organizational viability and continuous innovation. Leonard and Swap describe the origins and limits of deep smarts and outline processes for cultivating and leveraging them across the organization. Developing an experience repertoire and receiving strategic guidance from wise coaches can help individuals move up the ladder of expertise from novice to master. Addressing a topic of increasing importance as the Boomer generation retires, Deep Smarts challenges leaders to take a hands-on approach to managing the experience-based knowledge shaping the future of their organizations.

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Editorial Reviews

Soundview Executive Book Summaries
How to Cultivate and Transfer Business Wisdom
Deep smarts are not simply IQ or talent. Instead, according to Harvard Business Professor Dorothy Leonard and Tufts University Psychology Professor Walter Swap, they are a potent form of experience-based wisdom that drives both organizational competitiveness and personal success. In their book, Deep Smarts, Leonard and Swap provide a deeper look at the interrelationships among knowledge, competitive advantage and continuous innovation. They explain that what makes deep smarts so competitively valuable is that they are built on firsthand life experiences, resulting in tacit knowledge that is hard for other organizations to copy.

Over the past several years, the authors have conducted a research project in which they observed and interviewed coaches and their protégés in startups and older firms. Deep Smarts presents the results of their research and reveals how deep smarts can be cultivated and leveraged throughout an organization, including how deep smarts emerge from the development of "experience repertoires" guided by knowledge coaches.

The Engine of Your Organization
According to the authors, deep smarts are the engine of your organization, and you cannot progress without them. By understanding what they are, and how they are built, cultivated and transferred, they write, you will be able to manage more effectively. They also add that the people in your organization who have deep smarts form the basis of your organizational viability.

Deep smarts are based on know-how and know-what, the authors write, as well as "the ability to comprehend complex, interactive relationships and make swift, expert decisions based on that system level comprehension but also the ability, when necessary, to dive into component parts of that system and understand the details." Deep smarts are not something you learn in college alone, they explain, "but they can be deliberately nourished and grown and, with dedication, transferred or recreated."

Deep Smarts was written for general managers who believe that investments in organizational learning and in people will grow profitability, the authors write, as well as those who believe that developing the next generation of leaders is an important part of their job.

The authors explain that deep smarts are formed and influenced internally by who we are, which includes our personal background, education and upbringing. In addition, they are also formed by external sources, which include other people who coach us directly and those we admire and emulate. Deep smarts also come from a buildup of knowledge, and are based on experience-based expertise as well as that of others, and can be used to quickly sum up a situation and render a decision. This includes the use of networks to solve problems. The authors also write that the process of shaping plays an important role in deep smarts - they are socially constructed forms of expertise, so they include our own convictions about what is real and true as well as whatever beliefs and assumptions we accept from those we admire.

Beliefs and Assumptions
Throughout Deep Smarts, the authors describe not just the importance of cultivating and transferring deep smarts, but also offer crucial tips to help managers build deep smarts through experience; ways deep smarts can be developed and expressed; and ways deep smarts can be shaped through beliefs, assumptions, social influences and cultural belief systems.

Deep Smarts then describes how deep smarts can best be transferred from experts and coaches to their protégés and peers, as well as ways the experiences of protégés can be guided so they can create their own deep smarts.

According to the authors, the following points should be kept in mind:

  • Observing deep smarts in action is an effective way for an expert to transfer knowledge. But modeling becomes even more effective when the coach guides the protégé to reflection on what has been observed.
  • Guided observation is also a tool for forcing unlearning, that is, the relinquishing of assumptions and cognitive habits.
  • Guided problem solving recreates deep smarts because the protégé can develop know-how and know-who as well as know-what (facts about the knowledge domain).
  • When learners conduct experiments, they learn to think analytically, in terms of hypotheses or "what-ifs."


Why We Like This Book
Deep Smarts presents an intriguing mix of coaching tips and organizational strategies that creates a resource for helping younger managers move up the ladder and keeping organizations on track through constant knowledge transfer. By combining manager development with business strategy, the authors have created a thoughtful collection of smart training and management techniques that can help any organization. Copyright © 2005 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591395287
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2005
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The importance of cultivating and transferring deep smarts 1
2 Building deep smarts through experience 19
3 Expertise : developing and expressing deep smarts 47
4 Assembling deep smarts 75
5 Beliefs shape deep smarts 101
6 Social influences 133
7 Transferring deep smarts 169
8 Recreating deep smarts through guided experience 203
9 Cultivating deep smarts : for organizations and ourselves 227
App The entrepreneurship study 251
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2004

    Useful wisdom for evaluating & assembling teams

    These talented authors believe not all employees can contribute equally to the bottom line. They argue that those with 'deep smarts' are essential employees and help provide insights so that business managers can better transfer those 'knowledge assets' to others in the company before those with 'deep smarts' leave. Leonard and Swap define 'deep smarts' as accumulated knowledge, know-how, and intuition gained from extensive experience. Deep smarts are more than competence, but 'the ability to comprehend complex, interactive relationships and make swift, expert decisions based on that system level of comprehension but also the ability, when necessary, to dive into the component parts of that system and understand the details.' These individuals have capabilities that those with less expertise do not have, allowing them to interpret small variations in data that elude novices, make decisions quickly, or know when they are encountering a rare event and evaluate its possible outcomes quickly. This level of expertise often requires ten years to develop and they get results that novices and those who are merely expert cannot. Dorothy Leonard, a Harvard Business School emerita professor, and Walter Swap, the former dean of Tufts and a professor of psychology, explored the world of 'knowledge stars' by interviewing people at 35 companies in the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore, India, and China from 2000-2002. These people include those with 'deep smarts', such as venture capitalist Vinod Kholsa who helped found Juniper Networks, to managers of projects with mixed success rates, such as the Mars Pathfinder missions, and those now anonymous entrepreneurs of defunct Internet companies. The authors dig deep into the structure of these companies to pinpoint how things went right, and where they took a turn for the worse. Not only is the argument sound (deeply expert people matter­) but the chapters are laid out in a practical manner. Each has a 'Keep in Mind' list which can help managers recall the key findings of the study, something you'd want to take stock of when planning for the next year or in evaluating an expensive hire. Some examples include choices involved establishing a trust of talents, why experts fail (overconfidence, an inability to communicate, or even ignorance), and even a list to determine what may be realistic in terms of goals. Swap and Leonard have compiled an impressive set of work on creating, structuring, and sustaining sources of innovation in businesses. Both independently esteemed scholars, their last joint effort, When Sparks Fly is a terrific read about group creativity and its challenges. (Leonard's groundbreaking Wellsprings of Knowledge remains one of the best books around on establishing, sustaining, and protecting corporate innovation.) Deep Smarts provides a useful and an important contribution to business knowledge, because it adds their careful research, clear writing, and their own significant deep smarts to the critical topic of transferring knowledge within a company.

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