The Knowing-Doing Gap is one of the best books I’ve read about implementing our plans and strategies. The problem is not that we don’t know “what” to do but that we don’t actually do it. This is a frustration with both organizations and individuals. As a Pastor, my biggest frustration in discipleship is that people are educated beyond their obedience. As a leader of staff, my frustrations rise when we do not make the things happen that we say we will. We have meetings, say we know what to do, but it doesn’t actually get done. There seems to be a gap between knowing and doing.
We need to spend less time talking about organizational problems and spend more time taking action. Another phrase I use a lot is “Some People Talk About it…Other People Do It“. This book was a great affirmation and helped me focus my frustration. We cannot substitute talk for action. The writers said, “One of the main barriers to turning knowledge into action is the tendency to treat talking about something as equivalent to actually doing something about it“. We do this far too often in the church, both in our discipleship practices and organizational leadership.
There are no easy answers for the knowing-doing problem. But here are Eight Guidelines the writers suggested for addressing it (and my thoughts):
- Why before How: Philosophy is Important (Why we do what we do should always guide how we do it)
- Knowing Comes from Doing and Teaching Others How (The best way to learn something is to actually do it. Knowledge without experience is a waste of time)
- Action Counts More Than Elegant Plans and Concepts (Sounding smart is not a substitute for doing something smart)
- There Is No Doing without Mistakes – How will You Respond? (If you want a culture of ACTION…How you respond when things go wrong is a big deal)
- Fear Fosters Knowing-Doing Gaps – So Drive Out Fear (Great Leaders are never defined by fear… Great Organizations do not operate in fear)
- Fight the Competition, Not Each Other (Teams don’t compete with each other…they unite to beat the competition)
- Measure What Matters (Most organizations measure outcomes instead of processes. The church is no exception)
- What Leaders Do Matters (Leaders are tasked to produce transformation; set expectations; and turn knowing into doing)