Does knowledge drive action?

A year ago I attended a webinar about change management. The speaker, Peter de Jager, was talking about what makes changes fail and what are good changes. He had a nice little list

Good Change Change failures
management of the change is facilitated management is dictated
good communications about the change poor communication
lots of planning lack of planning
all stakeholders are involved no involvement of key people
pro’s and con’s are clearly identified the change is not reality based
clarity of change objectives no clear benefit

Now, you’ll say that’s common sense. I know that. Still a lot of change initiatives fail for exactly those reasons. An old Greek philosopher once said

Knowledge, that does not determine action, is dead to use.

Which is exactly what’s happening here:

  • We know very well how to run a¬†successful¬†change project.
  • Often enough we don’t do what we know we should do.

So why is that?

I read a few arcticles about this. Some say it’s fear and point to personal exteriences pushing you into inaction. I think, maybe in some cases, but what about wrong assumptions?

When you drive change, you have a clear objective in mind and know the benefit it will bring. Here’s the risk of assuming everybody feels the same about this. So rather than stepping back and verify your assumption, you try to make it happen and fail miserably. Roadblocks appear on the way and you are ill prepared to deal with them. Putting the effort into the front phase makes life much easier along the way.


Knowledge doesn’t drive action at all. What you make from it, if and how you use it is getting things done.

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