The knowledge-doing gap

People are smart. Not all of us all the time, certainly not me. But by and large, people are smart. This seems odd when considering that we frequently encounter less-than-desirable situations that often have endured for a long time.

But people often know what could be done to improve even such long-lasting situations — this knowledge just isn’t put into action. Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton discuss this phenomenon in their book The knowing-doing gap: how smart companies turn knowledge into action and in a related article.

From this perspective, it becomes obvious that addressing such less-than-desirable situations as a knowing problem is unlikely to be effective — the people affected likely have all the knowledge required to improve the situation. Addressing such situations as a doing problem, i.e. working with people to put their knowledge into action, seems likely to be much more effective…but only if the people affected think a problem exist, want to do something about it, and want (my) help in doing so.

Now putting the knowledge in this post into my actions would be a big step toward closing one of my major knowing-doing gaps.

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