The Problem May not Be the “Knowing-Doing Gap” After All – It May Be the “Knowing-Doing Chasm”

Caruth Police InstituteI recently presented my session on Communication Essentials, (which includes material from Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, and Words that Work by Frank Luntz) for the Sergeant Supervisory Series for the Dallas Police Department.  (This is part of the Caruth Police Institute.  Rick Holden does a fine job designing and leading this program).

This is quite a challenge!  I have to present the communication basics in about three hours, giving understanding, and tools, to these Police Sergeants.  My session is only a small part of an intensive eight-week training regimen.

So, at the Graduation Luncheon, I was talking to a group of the Sergeants, asking the usual:  How was the entire program?  What did you learn?  Was it useful?  Will it help you?

One of the Sergeants said that he learned some, but he was reminded of a lot.  Good observation.

But, here’s what may be the observation of the year…  As they described how some police officers actually and effectively put what they learn/remember into practice, others don’t quite seem to do this as well.  I described the “knowing-doing gap.”  I told them that this is a common and major challenge in every organization – to get people to actually do what they know should be done.  That is the challenge of the knowing-doing gap.

One Sergeant (with quite a wit!), said, it’s not really a knowing-doing gap.  It is a knowing-doing chasm.

The Knowing-Doing Chasm.  Yep!

That’s the new phrase of the year!  And, I fear that he is right.  The problem is not a gap – it is a chasm.

Closing that knowing-doing chasm may be in competition for the number one challenge for leaders.

Another word for this challenge is the challenge of “execution.”  But, the “Knowing-Doing Chasm” has quite a ring to it, doesn’t it?!

And, that chasm needs to be closed first within each leader himself/herself.

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