When at last you've digested the lessons of total quality management and reengineering, you're challenged to develop a "learning organization"! Is it just another trendy management-consulting mantra, or the true path to personal and organizational success? Robert Aubrey and Paul M. Cohen make a strong case for the latter in Working Wisdom: Timeless Skills and Vanguard Strategies for Learning Organizations (Jossey-Bass, 1995, $25). It's thoughtful, practical, and mercifully brief (165 pages).

Aubrey, a management consultant with a penchant for philosophy, and Cohen, an editor for the Tom Peters Group, explore how adults learn and why it's important for companies to make lifelong learning a priority. In the new economy, say the authors, individuals are ultimately responsible for their own careers, but employers "must provide opportunities, resources, and rewards for the continual development of our workforce or risk losing our greatest competitive asset."

In part two, Aubrey and Cohen tell you how to lay the groundwork for "working wisdom" by using five techniques: accompanying, sowing, catalyzing, showing, and harvesting. Short summaries at the end of each section should help you put theory into practice.

The authors offer a blueprint for implementing a broad learning strategy (ouch -- that's the tough part) and finish up with some lofty thoughts on the future of strategic partnerships between companies and universities.