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Dorothy Leonard, Walter Swap
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Human Dimensions of Fire Management
Organizational Learning & Innovation

NRFSN number: 15835
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This book describes a process of extracting knowledge from inside the heads of people who possess high expertise in their work, and then describes numerous ways this knowledge can be delivered to people with less expertise. People with high expertise are said to have “deep smarts” about their work, a form of work-related knowledge that is both explicit and tacit. Their peers may know they are good at what they do, but the practitioners themselves may not know exactly how they put the whole package of their work-related expertise together. Employees who have deep smarts have many attributes, including the ability for swift decision making, to find solutions to novel situations, to ascertain when rules don’t apply, and to recognize patterns. But knowledge locked in people’s heads doesn’t help improve the performance of organizations—this knowledge must be cultivated and passed on to employees who are still working. Leonard and Swap discuss coaching as an excellent method of knowledge transfer. In an age when many organizations’ most experienced people are retiring, the guidelines for knowledge capture and transfer outlined in this book deserve close attention.


Leonard, Dorothy, Swap, Walter. 2005. Deep smarts: how to cultivate and transfer enduring business wisdom. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. 288 p.

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