The Knowing/Doing Gap


Here is a fundamental truth about business. Many organizations, and marketing departments, are well aware of what they should be doing. They are just not doing it.

You see, knowing is not the hard part… doing is. This is what is known as the knowing/doing gap. I’m sure you have seen this with either your current firm, a previous firm, or a firm you know. The things you talk about doing never get done. The things people know they should be doing are not getting done.

Part of the blame lies with those of us who write about or teach business and marketing. You can read whole books about business or marketing that don’t contain one single actionable item.  These authors expect you to pay them $12 to tell you nothing.

A lot of people will tell you that, for example, you should develop relationships to succeed in business. But has anyone ever given you a set of actionable steps that will take you from sitting at your desk to having this relationship thing with someone?

You get 10 steps to better writing. But have you ever read how to go from staring at a blank piece of paper to staring at a perfectly written project write-up? I’d like to see that.

You just got a business card from some random person at a networking event. What’s step #2? What’s step #3?

The knowing/doing gap can only be bridged by action. We do not lack knowledge, we lack action. How do we stop knowing and start doing? You do this by simply asking a question: “What is the next action? “What is the next physical action we need to take to move us closer to getting done that thing we know we should be doing? Jaws will drop. Blank stares will appear. Don’t start talking about anything else until someone answers that question. Try it next time you are in a meeting.

Some people don’t even understand what an action is. “Start doing monthly newsletter” is not an action. That’s the outcome that will be produced from a series of next actions. A next action is “write down a list of content items needed for newsletter.” If you can’t draw a picture of a stick figuring doing it, it’s not a next action.

Once the next action is identified, step #2 is do it. Rinse and repeat until your desired outcome has become a reality.

Once you start thinking and speaking in actions, you’ll start to bridge the knowing/doing gap.  Now stop reading and start doing!

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