Bridging The Knowing-Doing Gap:

Management and leadership training is often renowned for its theoretical focus, with little emphasis on practical application. This means that knowledge doesn’t always translate into action. This divide between theory and tangible results is commonly known as the Knowing-Doing Gap.

Illustration of a man thinking about how to bridge the gap between knowing and doing.

In simple terms, the Knowing-Doing Gap refers to the disconnect between knowledge and action. It is well documented that “learning doesn’t automatically translate to behaviour change”, according to Forbes (2022).

Unfortunately, awareness alone is not enough to bring about change. The gap between what we know and what we actually apply in our daily lives is growing wider by the day.

Closing the Divide Between Knowing and Doing

What if we could teach them not only to acquire knowledge but also to make consistent, solution-based choices, and become a community of doers?

What if we could create a learning initiative that not only educates; but also inspires and energizes your team to work together towards a common goal?

What if we could provide opportunities to practice, and get feedback and guidance? What would such a learning initiative look like?

Leader confused by knowing-doing gap

One proven way of bridging the Knowing-Doing Gap is:

By practicing “Learning AND Doing” simultaneously.

Successful individuals and organizations not only learn quickly but also apply what they’ve learned immediately. By integrating “Learning AND Doing” in time and space, new knowledge is combined with real-time application. This not only leads to positive changes occurring faster, improving your organization’s workflow and providing demonstrable results but also enables employees to recognize the positive change in themselves and their productivity almost instantly.

Here are some more actions to bridge the Knowing-Doing Gap:

  • Provide opportunities for practice and feedback. Employees need to be able to practice what they are learning and receive feedback on their progress.
  • Encourage employees to apply what they have learned in their jobs. Give them specific tasks or projects to work on that will allow them to use their new skills and knowledge.
  • Use case studies and simulations to allow participants to practice applying what they are learning in real-world scenarios.
  • Provide opportunities for participants to role-play different leadership situations.
  • Create a supportive environment where participants feel comfortable asking for help and making mistakes, aka psychological safety.
  • Celebrate successes and provide positive reinforcement for applying new knowledge and skills.
  • Provide ongoing coaching and mentoring to support participants as they apply what they have learned in their jobs.

By taking these steps, organizations can help their employees to bridge the Knowing-Doing Gap and become more effective managers and leaders.

It is also important to note that bridging the knowing-doing gap is not a one-time event. Habit-building opportunities are essential for leaders who want to bridge the knowing-doing gap.

As the world around us changes, so too must our knowledge and skills. Leaders who are committed to bridging the knowing-doing gap will make a conscious effort to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in their field, and they will regularly practice the skills that they need to be effective leaders.

One way to drive genuine behavioural adjustments is to include habit-building opportunities in leaders’ everyday workflows. This could involve setting aside time each day for learning and development, such as reading articles or books, listening to podcasts, or watching webinars. Leaders could also use this time to practice new skills or to reflect on what they have learned.

Another way to build habits is to find a mentor or coach who can provide guidance and support while building leadership confidence and helping leaders stay motivated.

Remember, combining learning and doing is the first step to forming new behaviours. Applying these new behaviours is the only way to build real confidence in your leadership abilities and develop effective and productive leadership habits.

In conclusion, learning initiatives must provide a rewarding experience for all to bridge the Knowing-Doing Gap. We believe it’s time for a new approach to learning and development opportunities that elevate individuals upwards and onwards along their journey, resulting in work environments where people flourish productively.