Summary and Info
Ed Waltz has produced a book that is far more useful and important than its title or intended audience suggest. It is perhaps the single finest soup-to-nuts how-to manual on how an organization can design its decision-making processes to maximize utility, whether this takes the form of national security or profit or anything in between.Waltz covers knowledge management (KM) encyclopedically, from the intake of data on the external and internal environments (e.g., the market or the battlespace and the organization's own capabilities and situation), through the processing and assessment of the data, to its finished state as an input to rational decision-making. Topics include the basic principles of intelligence in the classic national security sense, through the epistemology and methodology of knowledge-creation and -management, the characteristics of a learning organization, analytical and synthetic methods, and the IT implications -- what network, data and computational systems and tools are required to implement advanced organizational learning, and the power these can confer.The unexpected importance of the book lies in its applicability across the entire spectrum of organizational planning and decision-making. In this regard, 'intelligence' is simply a rubric for information and knowledge, which can be applied to national intelligence, military planning, and in fact to all governmental agencies, private-sector corporations, law firms, hospitals, etc. -- all organizations, that is, that plan and decide based on data and analysis -- which would seem to cover most of them.Waltz emphasizes the information-technological dimensions of KM and ideal reasoning processes organizations need to implement. The only topic that remains to be discussed involves human cognition, group processes and organizational culture and specifically how these behavioral tendencies impede perfect rationality and how management can overcome this impediment. Psychologists, however, have provided a substantial literature on cognition, while basic research and theory in the socio-cultural dimensions remains immature.For organizational managers who have read the theoretical literature on learning organizations and knowledge management (e.g., Peter Senge and Nonaka & Takeuchi), Waltz's volume is the practical and technical handbook for actual corporate implementation. Given its value, its price, which is steep for individuals, is a pittance for those who need it most.Moreover, for a technical treatise that warrants close study, the book is surprisingly easy to read. Although packed with complex concepts and interrelated processes, the graphics are extensive and clear and the text is engaging. The reader feels like he is receiving a personal briefing by the author, who now (2005) is Chief Scientist of BAE Systems Advanced Information Technologies.
More About the Author
(Edward) Walter Maunder (12 April 1851 – 21 March 1928) was a British astronomer best remembered for his study of sunspots and the solar magnetic cycle that led to his identification of the period from 1645 to 1715 that is now known as the Maunder Minimum.
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