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Not just another tedious tome

by Hugh McKellar, KMWorld editor in chief

Publishers send me books. Lot of them. My bookcases are filled with them. A brief scan of some of the titles shows some pretty cumbersome titles: "Transactional Information Systems: Theory, Algorithms and the Practice of Concurrency Control and Recovery," "Spatial Databases: With Application to GIS" ... you get the idea. Let's just say I don't get a chance to read them all.

So, when Oxford University Press sent me a copy of Jay Chatzkel's "Knowledge Capital: How Knowledge-Based Enterprises Really Get Built," I feared yet another tedious tome. Far, far too many titles published by technical and business publishers reflect a certain intellectual self-indulgence by both writers and publishers. I wish I had looked beyond my own prejudices sooner, because "Knowledge Capital" is one of those books that really should be read by anyone interested in KM, intellectual capital or organization dynamics.

Rather than interminably holding forth about his own ideas, Chatzkel takes a unique approach—he talks with other thought leaders and practitioners and helps drive the interviews with intelligent questions. What a concept. He speaks with some of the best thinkers in their fields, from Tom Davenport to Hubert St. Onge, from Stephen Denning to Vince Barabba, Karl Wiig to Kent Greenes. The list goes on.

Further, the book is structured with the reader in mind. By organizing it into five themes—Starting Points; Strategic Issues; Human Capital, Values and Learning; Drivers and Accounting for Intangible Wealth; and Bringing it All Together in Practice--the reader can choose the section that appears to be best suited to his or her needs. That's not to say, you can't read it from cover to cover, but if you're anything like me, it's nice to have the opportunity to explore shorter, more easily digested chunks. Chatzkel introduces and summarizes each section intelligently, and the bibliography is carefully considered.

I'll let you draw you own conclusions about the ultimate value of the book for your own organization, but I challenge you to flip through its pages without discovering something you want to explore further. Ultimately, "Knowledge Capital" is about lifelong learning, and there is something within its pages for everyone.

For me, the following quote from Chatzkel succinctly sums up why you might want to pick up a copy of book: "The upcoming enterprise wars will be wars of capabilities, not wars of position. They will be won by knowledge-based enterprises that understand that the future is theirs if they build for it. While financial and physical resources capital will always be important ingredients in any success business recipe, it will be the ability to leverage usable knowledge capital that will give the knowledge-based enterprise its edge."

It's pretty hard to argue with that logic

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