Over the past few decades, all the things that help one become professionally more efficient, more effective, have dramatically changed.
From infrastructure to transport to communication to technology, things have only improved. Each of these today has altered our immediate professional context, opening the door to endless ways to be encouraged, enabled, empowered, informed. As a result of all that, people being pushed to become more and more proficient in whatever they do.
Our own collective knowledge today as a society, as a business community or even as an organization unit, is humongous. The access we have to innumerable research findings, books, insights analysis, discussions, theories, is unprecedented.
Think about it.
The collective pool of experience and information available now to assist us, to empower us, to help us make the right moves, and even chose the right moments to make those moves, is increasing exponentially.
Yet, we seem to be missing something somewhere. For there still is a yawning gap between what we know and what we actually end up doing.
And it does not end with you. This is true about your workplace too. Organizations have to constantly confront that perpetual gap between strategy and result.
And more often than not, it is hard-core action of some kind that will bridge that gap. Action that someone must take; a departmental manager, a colleague, a subordinate, your boss, and you.
And know what the most common obstacles to action are?
Fear and Inertia
Stanford Professors Pfeffer and Sutton studied this question, “Why does knowledge of what needs to be done frequently fail to result in action or behavior consistent with that knowledge?” The results are in their book, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action . They found the most common obstacles to action are fear and inertia.
The reason that finding struck me as powerful? At one level we are dealing with a huge, abstract organizational challenge, the knowing-doing gap. But at another level, we are actually dealing with fundamental individual tendencies of ‘Fear and Inertia’.
Suddenly a seemingly abstract organizational challenge turns out to actually be an accumulation of personal individual challenges that we each need to overcome.
Suddenly the huge mountain sized challenge on the shoulder of the organization is fragmented into ten thousand miniscule pieces. Paradoxically, the larger your firm the smaller the fragment.
You and I have each a small piece of this challenge on our shoulders. Where it originally belonged.
Suddenly each of us has the power to engineer and steer our firms through what might be the biggest change it has ever seen.
In the end, it is about us.
It is really up to you and me.