The Gap Between Knowing and Doing

This blog post was written by Jess Coles, Ninety Days’ commercial consultant. 

The gap between permeates every part of business life. The business community places a lot of value on what you know - hiring people with great ideas and the ability to communicate them - yet does not overtly value those who can get things done in the same way. Think about the interviews you have been through - how many really tested what you had done and achieved rather than what you know.

Why does “doing it” matter

Anyone in management has experienced the frustration of communicating an idea (knowing), planning a set of activities, explaining them to the team, and then not seeing the activities actually be put into practice by the team (the doing). Unless ideas and aspirations are put into practice in a tangible way - made real - no one will get the benefit of them. The idea /strategy is circa 15% of the solution, getting it into practice is the remaining 85%! Real examples of this are seen each month in public companies. Having promised a great plan, then not delivered against the promise made, they see a substantial fall in their stock price. Circa 20% of the top CEOs lose their jobs each year as a result of these shortcomings.

A very real competitive advantage

The ability of an organisation to turn ideas and plans into reality is a real competitive advantage. Most companies, from SMEs to large corporates, are okay at best in this area. A few have worked very hard and made “getting it done” part of their culture, ingrained in everything they do. Look at your sector leaders—they are very likely better at getting things done than you are. Dell computers is a good example of a public company with great execution.

Focus is important

What are your top priorities? How many priorities make up your list? If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. Do the most important thing first and don’t do anything else until that task/activity is completed. This is easy to say, but takes discipline to make happen day in, day out.

Strategy does matter

If you don’t have the right strategy, then amazing execution of the wrong strategy will still result in failure or poor performance. Get your strategy right

The right people in the right positions

No-one likes to criticise or have those difficult conversations with staff members. Good managers have the tough conversations early. Hire first on character, before smarts and experience. Be selective of who you allow in your business. Work hard to ensure that you have the right people - it is critical. Make sure they know what is needed and expected of them and why. If you do need to take action because someone is not working out, don’t delay.

Relentlessly follow up

Ensure that you follow up on tasks and activities set relentlessly without micro managing. You will quickly learn the amount of follow-up needed for each member of your team to ensure activities are completed and goals achieved. This has to start at the top and flow down throughout the organisation. Following up takes a lot of time and effort - a key reason that many managers struggle to follow up with their teams.

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This blog post was written by Jess Coles, Ninety Days’ commercial consultant.