The ethical intent to action gap is real. Here's how to close it


The Intention-Action Gap is the difference between what someone says they want to do and what they actually do. It’s something pretty much every single one of us can empathise with. Here are some examples:

  1. You really want to improve your body composition. But, you eat too much of the wrong food at the wrong times and don’t exercise enough
  2. You want to buy more sustainable, local produce. But, you’re strapped for time and you always end up in the big grocery stores
  3. You want to spend more time with friends laughing and living meaningful moments. But, that big promotion might be just around the corner. It’s rare you leave the office before 7:30pm. Oh, and when you do, you’re absolutely shattered. Netflix is has become your best evening friend..

At Greater Than Learning, we add a little focus to this existing phenomenon by framing it as the ‘ethical intent to action gap’. This is something indviduals and organisations grapple with daily. In fact, the very premise of our platform is to help people all around the world progressively close it.

Let’s talk a little about why.

Organisations really suck at doing what they say they will

“There is no correlation between the cultural values a company emphasizes in its published statements and how well the company lives up to those values in the eyes of employees.”

Donald Sull - MIT Sloan School of Management and cofounder of CultureX
Let’s provide a few distinct examples:
  1. ANZ Bank (one of Australia’s Big 4) often talks about environmental sustainability. But, they’re also the ‘friendliest funder’ of the fossil fuels industry
  2. Microsoft is pushing hard on things like Self Sovereign Identity and Personal Data Agency. But they also sell surveillance technologies and have a variety of business functions that could easily be considered ‘surveillance capitalism’
  3. The Heart Foundation is trying to promote a heart healthy lifestyle. This is awesome. Heart disease kills more people than any other lifestyle disease today. But, rather problematically, they still have processed red meats in some of their recipes  

Before continuing, let me come out and very explicitly say that these ethical intent to action gaps are somewhat complicated. There are a variety of different ‘forces’ that discourage progress towards the promise or ‘value’ that a given organisation explicitly communicates. Many people within these organisation are very likely working their asses off to try and make meaningful progress.

This should not be about pointing fingers for the sake of it. This should, however, serve as a wakeup call. It’s no longer acceptable for organisations to say they will do something and consistently not do it.

The world needs truly authentic, open and accountable organisations to support us in the design of a better future. And it’s not the legal fictions themselves that will make this change happen. It’s the people. It’s the indviduals, teams and groups that represent these organisations that will make this change happen.

This is a problem worth solving

When we talk to people about this, they’re kind of frustrated. They want to do better. They want the organisations they work with to do better. They’re dissatisfied with the ways in which ethical actions are being committed to and followed through today.

A lot of these people feel somewhat stuck or disempowered. Doing what they feel is right is way harder than it should be.

But, what we and so many others have come to learn is that progress can be made. You just have to start the right way.

Tiny steps have compounding effects

When lots of people take tiny ethical actions on a daily basis, the impact can be huge. And this – consistent, approachable and practical ethical action – is what Greater Than Learning is all about. This is what #MakingBetterTogether is all about.

Join us on the journey

Access to the private beta is no longer open. It actually kicks off tomorrow. 

Having said that, we’re only 5 or 6 weeks away from launch.

So, if any of this interests, intrigues or truly excites you, reach out to us. Connect with Nate and Mat on LinkedIn. Start engaging in the discussions we’re having. And, more importantly, get ready for the October launch.

Through our community values of Connection, Collaboration, Commitment and Consequence we can start #MakingBetterTogether. We can progressively close the ethical intent to action gap.

Big ❤️ as always.