Close the "Knowing-Doing Gap"

December 14, 2020
# min read
Howard Litwak

I have noticed in my years working with entrepreneurial organizations as a business coach that there are some very smart people who are not accomplishing all that they want. Or that they could. As a result, their organizations are characterized by firefighting, lack of motivation, poor communication, and no sense of control. These people know a lot of stuff and yet don't apply what they know. Worse, they don't do the things they know they should do. Can you relate?

This is the "knowing-doing gap." It is not enough to just know something. Knowledge itself is not power. It is only applied knowledge or "doing" which is power.

There is a great tool available to organizations to help close this gap. It is called goal achievement. Not goal setting. Setting goals is not enough. It's only a start. We are talking about "doing" here.

I believe business leaders in general know they should set goals. They know that their organizations should have goals. Many do. (Does yours?) However, for the most part I find that the goals, when they exist, lack the effectiveness that they could have.

So with that in mind, here are 4 things which will help your organization to close the "knowing-doing gap," be more proactive, focused, efficient, and in control:

  1. Have as clear a picture as you can of what the end result looks like. For example: Hire an "A" player, increase cash flow by 50%, or double revenue. Goal setting is about deciding on and being able to see the outcomes before you start. Ask yourself the following: What is it that I really want? What do I want the desired outcome to be?
  2. Have your people focusing primarily on activities that lead to the end results. Their mantra (and yours) should be: "I set it. I achieve it. I set it. I achieve it." It is not about the setting of goals. It is about the achieving. The right activities lead to desired results. This is an area where many people fall short. It is only about the results. What do you focus on? Is it activities or specific outcomes?
  3. You and your people need accountability. Because it is human nature to be more productive by having someone to be accountable to. A regular meeting flow where everyone reports on their results serves this purpose. (See "Meeting and Information Flow: How well do you do this?")
  4. Goal setting and achievement must include behavior change or the goals would already be achieved. Stop and read that again! You can't keep doing the same things and expect different results. Now, think about this: Take your answers to question number one. What new behaviors do you need to make this your reality? The answer to this might just change your business.

Setting and achieving goals will increase your people's motivation and confidence in setting and achieving more goals. It turns into a self-sustaining cycle of accomplishment.

Having a goal achievement system is one of the traits that high performing organizations all share. If you want to accomplish more, make sure that one is alive as a non negotiable part of your organization's culture.

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