• Babson College: Professor, 2004 — Present
  • MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy: Research Fellow, 2011 — Present
  • Deloitte Analytics: Senior Advisor, 2010 — Present
  • Harvard Business School: Visiting Professor, 2012–2013
  • Ernst & Young Center for Business Innovation: Partner and Director of Research, 1998–2004
  • Accenture Institute for Strategic Change: Partner and Director, 1998–2003
  • Amos Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College: Visiting Professor, 2001–2002
  • Boston University School of Management: Professor, 1998–2000
  • University of Texas at Austin: Director, Center for Customer Insights. Curtis Mathes Fellowship, 1994–1998
  • Boston University: Adjunct Professor, 1992–1994
  • McKinsey and Company: Director of IT Research and consultant, 1989–1990
  • Harvard Business School: Senior Research Associate, 1988–1989
  • CSC Index: Principal and Director of Research, 1983–1988
  • Harvard University: Lecturer, 1981–1983
  • University of Chicago: Assistant Professor, 1980–1981
  • PhD, Harvard University, Sociology, 1980
  • MA, Harvard University, Sociology, 1979
  • BA, Trinity University, Sociology, 1976


  1. Tom’s Site
  2. Babson College
  3. MIT
  4. Deloitte
  5. Wikipedia
  6. LinkedIn


  1. Knowledge workers like autonomy
  2. Specifying the detailed steps and flow of knowledge-intensive processes is less valuable and more difficult than for other types of work.
  3. “You can observe a lot by watching.”
  4. Knowledge workers usually have good reasons for doing what they do.
  5. Commitment matters.
  6. Knowledge workers value their knowledge, and don’t share it easily.
  1. If We Build It… They will come.
  2. Let’s Put the Personnel Manual Online!
  3. None Dare Call it Knowledge
  4. Every Man a Knowledge Manager
  5. Justification by Faith
  6. Restricted Access
  7. Bottoms Up!
  • 7 Ways to Introduce AI into Your OrganizationJust-in-Time Delivery Comes to Knowledge Management
  • Analytics at Work: A Conversation with Tom Davenport
  • If Only BP Knew Now What it Knew Then with Laurence Prusak
  • Who Are the Gurus’ Gurus? with Laurence Prusak: Two hundred of today’s leading management thinkers were asked to identify their gurus. The result is an illuminating list, notable for some of the less obvious names it contains.
  • Who’s Bringing You Hot Ideas (and How Are You Responding)? with Laurence Prusak and H. James Wilson: There’s an unsung hero in your organization. It’s the person who’s bringing in new ideas from the outside about how to manage better.
  • From Producers to Consumers, Part I — I was reading Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick, which is about how to ensure that your ideas get noticed and acted upon. I was already a believer (John Beck and I wrote The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business in 2001, and it included some similar ideas, but was perhaps before its time — and just before 9/11), but the Heaths’ book made me realize how far things had moved toward the consumer side.
  • Recession: The Next Big Thing? — Given that we haven’t figured out how to avoid business cycles, we’re going to have a recession eventually. And given what’s happening in the housing market, it’s a pretty good bet that it will happen sooner rather than later. It’s certainly not too early to begin planning for how your organization will manage through a recession. I’m hoping this time for a more enlightened approach to recession-oriented management. Gone, I hope, will be the managerial conservatism, the mindless cutbacks, the early retirement offers to everyone with a pulse, the fire-sale pricing. We can do better, so let’s try. Managers always get cautious during recessions. The only ideas that appeal are how to cut costs. Gone is the interest in innovation and building the top line. Of course, this is an attitude that prolongs the downturn for the overall economy, and it slows the rate at which particular companies emerge from the fiscal funk. The best companies, like General Electric and McKinsey, accelerate innovation during recessions. They know that their people have a little more time to think, and they encourage them to think boldly and creatively.

Articles by Others

  1. APQC CEO Carla O’Dell spoke with Thomas Davenport as part of the “Big Thinkers, Big Ideas” interview series
  2. Smart Machines: Could This End Badly for Knowledge Workers? Interviewed by Carla O’Dell
  3. What is KM? Knowledge Management Explained by Michael E.D. Koenig — The classic one-line definition of Knowledge Management was offered up by Tom Davenport early on (1994): “Knowledge Management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.” Probably no better or more succinct single-line definition has appeared since.

Older Published Work

  1. Strategies for Preventing a Knowledge-Loss Crisis
  2. Why Office Design Matters
  3. Rethinking The Mobile Workforce
  4. Automated Decision Making Comes of Age
  5. The Coming Commoditization of Processes
  6. Decision Evolution
  7. Why Don’t We Know More About Knowledge?
  8. Decoding Information-Worker Productivity
  9. The Social Side of Performance
  10. Turning Mind Into Matter
  11. Toward an Innovation Sourcing Strategy
  12. Withering Heights
  13. A Measurable Proposal
  14. Innovation Sourcing Strategy Matters
  15. Innovation: A Little Help From Their Friends
  16. Data to Knowledge to Results: Building an Analytic Capability
  17. The Mysterious Art and Science of Knowledge-Worker Performance
  18. Just-in-Time Delivery Comes to Knowledge Management
  19. The Art of Work: Facilitating the Effectiveness of High-End Knowledge Workers
  20. A ‘Bifocal’ Approach to Enterprise Solutions
  21. AttentionScape
  22. How Do They Know Their Customers So Well?
  23. The Attention Economy
  24. The New, New IT Strategy
  25. Cut Us Some Slack
  26. Attention Must Be Paid!
  27. Nets Upon Nets

Putting Ideas to Work with Laurence Prusak and Bruce Strong — PDF

Back to School

  • The Issue: Knowledge management, in practice, has fallen short of its goal of transforming the way companies work.
  • The Problem: Many firms have focused solely on disseminating knowledge via technology, ignoring the other aspects of knowledge management.
  • The Bottom Line: Organizations need a broader management strategy, one that addresses how they are creating, sharing and using knowledge.

Knowledge Creation

Knowledge Dissemination

Knowledge Application

Enterprise 2.0

  • That it’s not even clear what Enterprise 2.0 is.
  • That Enterprise 2.0 technologies will not, by themselves, revolutionize organizations and make them more democratic.
  • That Enterprise 2.0 technologies produce too much content for their own good.
  • That there is no business benefit from social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace other than giving people something to do at work when they get bored.




  1. Keynoter Tom Davenport, director of the Information Management Program at the University of Texas (Austin), said, “Knowledge is easier to digest than information.”
  2. “The average customer database is outdated in a year,” said Davenport, adding, “Most companies build too much in a data warehouse — it’s easy to get in and difficult to get out.”



Books on Knowledge, Thinking, and Decisions

  1. Chapter 1 — What Do We Talk about When We Talk about Knowledge
  2. Chapter 2 — The Promise and Challenge of Knowledge Markets
  3. Chapter 3 — Knowledge Generation
  4. Chapter 4 — Knowledge Codification and Coordination
  5. Chapter 5 — Knowledge Transfer
  6. Chapter 6 — Knowledge Roles and Skills
  7. Chapter 7 — Technologies for Knowledge Management
  8. Chapter 8 — Knowledge Management Projects in Practice
  9. Chapter 9 — The Pragmatics of Knowledge Management
  • Ron Young: Most of the KM practitioners use this book as a reference. Practical issues of how companies can generate and transfer knowledge. A blueprint for competitive advantage.
  • Denham Grey: Davenport and Prusak’s 1998 primer for the KM practitioner. This covers the essential concepts of codification and personalization, the role of people vs. technology and the value of knowledge to business.
  1. they avoided gadgets
  2. limited the number of separate devices
  3. invested effort in organizing information
  4. weren’t missionaries
  5. got help
  6. used assistants — to some degree
  7. weren’t doctrinaire about paper versus electronic approaches
  8. decided what information was important to them, and organized it particularly well
  9. use lists
  10. adapt the use of tools and approaches to the work situation at a given time
  • Assessing the merits of the top business gurus
  • Scanning and tracking emerging ideas in the marketplace
  • Distinguishing promising ideas from rhetoric
  • Refining ideas to suit your organization’s particular needs
  • Packaging and selling the idea internally
  • Ensuring successful implementation
  1. Ch. 1 Winning with Ideas: How Business Ideas Are Linked to Business Success 1
  2. Ch. 2 The Idea Practitioners: Who Introduces Ideas to Organizations? 21
  3. Ch. 3 Ideas at Work: It’s the Content That Counts 49
  4. Ch. 4 The Guide to Gurus: Where Good Management Ideas Come From 69
  5. Ch. 5 Market Savvy: How Ideas Interact with Markets 97
  6. Ch. 6 Will It Fit?: Find Ideas That Fit Your Organization…Then Sell Them 123
  7. Ch. 7 The Reengineering Tsunami: A Case Story of an Idea That Became a Tidal Wave 155
  8. Ch. 8 Knowledge Management: A Case Story of a “P Cycle” Movement 179
  9. Ch. 9 Idea-Based Leadership: How Can Your Organization Lead with Ideas? 195
  10. App. A — A Select Survey of Business and Management Ideas 215
  11. App. B — The Idea Practitioners 217
  12. App. C — The Top Two Hundred Business Gurus 219
  • James Dellow
  • Matt Moore
  • James Robertson
  • Soundview
  • Bill Ives — This latest book by Tom Davenport and Larry Prusak provides some very practical advice and useful case examples on putting ideas to work. The central theme is the symbiotic relationship of the gurus, who generate ideas, and the idea practitioners, who enable sustained business impact from ideas.

Books on Analytics

Books on Information Management and Big Data

  1. Mastering Information Management edited with Donald Marchand
  2. Big Data at Work: Dispelling the Myths, Uncovering the Opportunities

Books on Artificial Intelligence

  1. Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines with Julia Kirby
  2. The AI Advantage: How to Put the Artificial Intelligence Revolution to Work

Books on Information Technology

  1. Process Innovation: Reengineering Work Through Information Technology
  2. Mission Critical: Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems with Marius Leibold

Book Chapters

  1. Knowledge Management Handbook edited by Jay Liebowitz — Chapter 2: Knowledge Management and the Broader Firm: Strategy, Advantage, and Performance
  2. Knowledge Capital: How Knowledge-Based Enterprises Really Get Built by Jay Chatzkel — Chapter 9: Thomas O. Davenport: People are the Owners and Investors of Human Capital




Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager

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Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager

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