The Knowing-Doing Gap

Knowing Doing Gap 2

The knowing-doing gap was originally defined by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton in their book, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action.

Pfeffer and Sutton identify the knowing-doing gap as the most menacing phenomenon most organizations face. This phenomenon costs billions of dollars and failures of all kinds. Simply put, the knowing-doing gap addresses the idea that organizations are aware of the best practices, competencies, skills, and behaviors needed to make them successful, yet for some reason this knowledge is not implemented and executed upon. Common knowledge is not always common practice.

At The Complex Sale, we see this on every one of our engagements.  We have come up with a system to help companies uncover what their “knowing-doing” gap is by creating a best practices benchmark. Simply stated, as sales leaders, we can positively increase revenue by one of three ways, create more demand, win more deals, or sell more to the base of accounts. This is the Create, Win, Grow model. We have seen that the most successful companies best impact these three pillars of revenue by first implementing an effective and repeatable process, executing effectively upon that process, and drive success from the management level. A visual of what best practices in a sales organizations would look like is this 3 x 3 grid:


3x3 grid

From this understanding – we ask our clients this, “How important is this best practice to the success of your organization and how well are you doing it?” We find that it is easier to quantify these questions on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest on both questions). From the results we are able to get a great understanding of a client’s knowing doing gap. The chart at the top of the blog shows how we can extrapolate results from asking these questions and get a visual on where an organization should be focusing its efforts for process improvement.

I also wanted to let you know about Rick Page’s new blog

Check it out!


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