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Shrinking The Knowing-Doing Gap

“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught”.

(J.C. Watts)

Pfeffer and Sutton (Harvard Business School Press 2000), have in their publication “The Knowing-Doing Gap – How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action” addressed something very relevant. Not only is this book useful for enterprises, but also for organizations, governments, societies, and for an individual´s personal life. The basic facts and ideas can be used as an effective change tool, applied and lived by every day, and in long-term planning. 


The Knowing-Doing Gap signifies a gap between our thoughts/knowledge and our actions. Many people are aware of their actions, yet are not always capable of changing themselves. Others are not even aware of some of their actions, yet about the consequences. Unfortunately, the latter applies to too many of us. Why?


It is a fact that most of us are aware of grievances, be it in our personal lives, in our neighborhood, in our city, at school, in our workplace, or in society in general. This is the KNOWLEDGE part of the Knowing-Doing Gap. 

DOING, or taking ACTION, in order to improve things – could be in personal life, in someone else´s life, correcting iniquities, working towards improving e.g. work processes and or workplace circumstances, taking action to improve the state of e.g. the environment, human rights issues, developing authentic leadership and so on – is the ACTIVE part of the Knowing-Doing Gap. 

We are all aware of the fact that in order to change things, and circumstances, improving conditions be it in our own lives, in education, at work, in society, we need to take action, instead of just waiting for something to happen. 

Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. 

The actions must not always be big. What is important, is to overcome inactivity, procrastination, and fear. Be willing to step up, step forward, and start by influencing things you can influence, and taking those steps you are capable of taking. Do not be afraid, instead, challenge your fears and notice how your life and surrounding changes as you begin living, and working, for the things you believe in. Very often, you will take two steps forward and one step back, but do not let it stop you. Every small progress counts, every little action in order to improve things – anything. 

“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas”.

(Shirley Chisholm)

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