了解到知行差距之后，我们会发现它在生活中无处不在。比如，我们曾在伊士曼柯达公司（Eastman Kodak Company）亲眼见到它的存在。20世纪90年代中期的一个寒冷的春天，艾迪欧公司（IDEO）的一个小组来到纽约州罗契斯特市，参观柯达管理团队。在那里，我们发现这个领袖团队具有渊博的专业知识，他们至少在理性上知道，摄影的未来将是数字化。
在竞争中落后的公司没有哪家是因为完全的原地踏步才失败的。不过有时候我们的努力会由于投入变革的程度不足而付诸东流。“我会试试的”更有可能会变成三心二意、半途而废的承诺，而非果断的行动。斯坦福大学设计学院（Stanford d.school）教务主任伯尼•罗斯通过一个实验验证了自己的这个观点。他的学生说，实验虽然简短，传达的信息却意味深长。他抓着一瓶水，让学生们试着把它从他手中拿走。面对这位头发花白，在斯坦福设计项目组（Stanford Design Program）工作了50年的老教授，学生们在抢走水瓶时往往会犹豫。他们最初的尝试毫无所获。面对着高大魁梧的年轻人和位高权重的首席执行官的争夺，这位八十多岁老人的手抓得越来越紧。
Many of us get stuck between wanting to act, and taking action. The uncertainty of the uncharted path ahead can be daunting. Sometimes it feels as if circumstances are conspiring against us, and we find ourselves riveted in place.
In corporate cultures, that hesitation can translate into what professors Bob Sutton and Jeffrey Pfeffer call the "knowing-doing gap:" the space between what we know we should do and what we actually do. The "knowing-doing gap" can lead to company paralysis when talk becomes a substitute for action.
After learning about the knowing-doing gap, we began to see it everywhere. For example we witnessed it first-hand at Eastman Kodak Company. On a cold spring day in the mid-1990s, an IDEO team travelled to Rochester, New York for an audience with the Kodak executive team. We found a group of leaders with deep expertise who at least intellectually understood that the future of photography was digital.
Looking back, business historians may be tempted to suggest that Kodak's leadership was naïve. But that was not the case. In fact, we had to race to keep up with CEO George Fisher's agile mind. And no one could say Kodak lacked knowledge of digital photography. They had actually invented the digital camera in 1975, and later pioneered the world's first megapixel sensor. Kodak had a head start that should have yielded lasting advantage. So why didn't all that knowledge and first-mover advantage turn into decisive action?
For starters, tradition got in the way of innovation. Kodak's glorious past was just too alluring. Kodak had essentially owned consumer photography for a hundred years, with market shares in some segments as high as 90%. By contrast, digital ventures all seemed so risky, and Kodak wasn't providing enough "soft landings" for managers willing to take career risks in those new areas. Facing strong global competitors in the digital market, Kodak knew that it would struggle, and fear of failure transfixed the management team.8
Caught in the knowing-doing gap, Kodak clung too closely to the chemistry-based business that had been so successful for them in the 20th century, under-investing in the digital world of the 21st. What we saw at Kodak was not a lack of information but the failure to turn insight into effective action. As a result, one of the most powerful brands in America lost its way.
No company that falls behind the competition is guilty of standing completely still. But sometimes our efforts fail because of the level of commitment to change. "I'll try" can become a half-hearted promise of follow-through rather than decisive action. Stanford d.school academic director Bernie Roth demonstrates this idea with a brief exercise that his students say delivers a lasting message. He holds out a water bottle and asks them to try to take it from him. Facing grey-haired Bernie, a 50-year veteran of the Stanford Design Program, students usually hesitate as they try to grab it from him. Their initial efforts yield nothing. His grasp just grows more ironclad as the strapping 20-year-olds and powerful CEOs try to wrestle the bottle away from the octogenarian.
Bernie then reframes the exercise. He says to stop trying and just do it -- take it from him. The next person strides forward and successfully wrenches the bottle away. What changed? As Bernie explains it, a subtle excuse lies in the idea of "trying." It's as if today is for attempts, and the real action will happen at some vague future moment. To achieve your goal, to topple the barriers that stand in your way, you have to be focused on getting it done now. Or as Yoda, another wise-and-seasoned master, put it to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, "Do or do not. There is no try."