Knowing-Doing Gap Part 1 – Why is there a Gap?

September 2, 2009 at 10:15 am 5 comments

 BeckThanks to Martha Beck for recommending The Knowing – Doing Gap by Pfeffer and Sutton!

You know how this goes – you attend a great conference, listen to a new idea, read a new book. You have a ton of new ideas or concepts – but somehow we just don’t get around to IMPLEMENTATION! Why is that?

I have always focused my work and non-profit consulting on best practices. Making and implementing change can be a challenge. I am going to writing a few quick posts sharing my experience and the books research on making change and eliminating the knowing-doing gap.

Bottom line here, knowing what to do is not enough. Everything we know we have to teach and act upon. If we want to put new practices or ideas into place, we need to do more than talk, we have to act.

What prevents us from acting on what we know we should change? According the research just to name two: (I have to leave something for the next post!)

  • Talk is a substitute for action
  • History and institutional memory keeps us from thinking of new, better, different ways

Some examples in non-profit management:
Knowing: A staff member is not working out but not ACTING on it. We complain, lament and assume we can’t make the change without a lot of work or because of the history of the person or organization. We know they are holding the organization back.
Doing: Put in place a performance improvement plan (PIP), schedule weekly meetings, prepare better communication, clearer expectations and be sure to follow-up. Some of these may be new to your organization – well that’s a start.

Knowing: A Board member is not fulfilling their responsibilities. And acknowledge their history or the history of how the Board operates. Or talking about how you can’t or won’t make the change because of history, by-laws, what other Board members will think.
Doing: Implement a Board self-assessment and an assessment of Board operations, have a conversation with the Board member, discuss an action plan with the Board Chair and Executive Director, enforce term limits – even though they may never have been enforced before!

Knowing: A special event is not raising enough money for the effort but everyone loves the event.
Doing: BBQ that sacred cow! Pull the numbers, get the facts, have a conversation with the powers that be, make a plan to replace the money with major gifts, individual giving while spending less time and money for better effort. And what can you do with all those people who “love” the event? Try a survey and see if that is really true and then decide. Accurate information is always a good substitute for history and talk.

There are a couple ideas to get you thinking. More in the posts and tweets to come!

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Entry filed under: A Better You, Resources You Can Use!.

Summer of Social Good? Knowing-Doing Part 2 – Fear Keeps us from Doing….

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Katrinka Markowitz  |  September 10, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Wonderful information. It already has me thinking about one of our fundraisers and if it’s worth the effort. Hmmmmm… Thx for sharing.

    • 2. Barbara Talisman  |  September 10, 2009 at 10:28 pm

      Thanks so much Katrinka. I am glad you found the post useful and thought-provoking!

  • 3. Sandy Rees  |  September 9, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I’ve been telling people for years to get rid of events that don’t serve them! Why spend hours and hours of manpower doing something that generates so little when you could be spending that same time cultivating major donors? I had this exact conversation with a client yesterday for the umpteenth time and thank goodness she’s finally seeing the light! She’s ready to dump several special events and focus on individual donors! (Can you see me doing the Happy Dance?)

    Sandy Rees
    Fundraising Coach

  • 4. Greg Schlichter  |  September 4, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Praise and adulation. Can’t wait for part II. Love it!

    • 5. Barbara Talisman  |  September 4, 2009 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks for your feedback. Part 2 next week!


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