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The Knowing Doing Gap


There is often a big gap between what we think and what we do.

Psychologist Len Festinger developed the term “Cognitive Dissonance” to describe our mind when our actions and beliefs don’t match.

Try to name one or two examples for yourself. Most people can.

The resolution is then to either change our beliefs or change our behaviour.

So how do we change?

Rarely do we have an ‘epiphany’ and automatically make the change…usually people move through a series of stages before modifying their behaviours.

James Prochaska called this TTM – trans theoretical model.

The five stages are:

  1. Pre contemplation

  2. Contemplation

  3. Preparation

  4. Action

  5. Maintenance

Change actually takes a series of preparatory adjustments. Sometimes these adjustments are subtle.

  1. Pre contemplation - not yet recognising the need for changes. Maybe under-informed or uninformed.

  2. Contemplation – recognising the need for change and thinking about what might be but not yet taking action.

  3. Preparation – time to get ready and work out what’s required.

  4. Action – when someone takes action …. this we can see and usually measure.

  5. Maintenance – keeping that change and making it consistent often means making the behaviour a habit

So if your knowing and your doing aren’t lining up, perhaps it’s time to contemplate change.

Individuals, teams and organisations all have the knowing doing gap and taking the steps towards change can be simple and life changing.


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