Deep Smarts

by Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap

Your best employees’ deepest knowledge can’t be transferred onto a series of PowerPoint slides or downloaded into a data repository. It has to be passed on in person — slowly, patiently, and systematically. Those who have deep smarts can see the whole picture; they can zoom in on a specific problem others haven’t been able to diagnose, and can make the right decision at the right level with the right people. Very few organizations manage this asset well, and such neglect is risky. Frameworks, tools, or other types of mental structures are important to effectively transfer deep smarts to those without them, but ultimately, deep smarts have to be recreated to take hold. This can happen through guided practice, observation, problem solving, and experimentation under the tutelage of an experienced coach.

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