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Significance of the Say-Do Gap

Aug 18, 2014

Written by: BI WORLDWIDE India
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Trusting your channel and dealer partners to make the most of your next channel incentive program can feel a lot like sending a kid off to camp...

Say-do gap is a much talked about phrase in the world of Behavioural Economics. Say- Do gap, also called the intention-action gap, is when people tend to say one thing, but do another. To illustrate:

• You claim to be on a diet and need to lose ten pounds, but you eat a doughnut each Friday at work.
• You aim to pay off your credit card debt in a year, but you buy a new car next week.
• As a sales rep, you know that you can earn more money with each incremental sale and that every minute you are not working, you are risking losing sales. In spite of knowing this, you decide to go play golf with a friend as it’s a beautiful Friday afternoon.

The above illustrations seem innocuous, but the say-do gap can have major implications when executed by high-profile business leaders, saying one thing and doing another.
You know you are highly observed when you are a top executive. Everything you say and do matters and carries a lot of significance. Gone are the days when you could “fly under the radar” (if ever you did). With the insurgence of web and social media there is simply nowhere to hide anymore – and numerous public figures have been in ruins because of it.

In this Omni scientific world where nothing is private anymore, it has been stated in BI WORLDWIDE™‘s New Rules of Engagement – “Be Boldly Transparent”. As a business leader, you have to behave ethically because the bottom line is people watch leaders; they listen to them and ape them. And hence the leaders are the first ones to be held accountable for not doing what they say they will do.

Our advice for business leaders and the say-do gap is dual:

1. Think before you talk.

2. Commit to do what you say you are going to do.

Behavioural economics makes us understand that leadership roles command a lot of authority and are highly stimulating. When you are in a highly senior role, you are more scrutinized and people aren’t as willing to “let you off the hook” especially when you bring out your natural human behaviour. While being a real human is one of the greatest assets any good leader has, you do need to fine tune in order to lead effectively. The say-do gap is one of the areas to be cautious about.

Learn more about how you can use behavioural economics to engage your sales team and employees into achieving long-term behaviour by contacting us.


BI WORLDWIDE, is a global performance improvement company and has been in operation for over 60 years. Fusing Domain Expertise, Cutting Edge Technology, Rewards Fulfillment, and Campaign Execution Capabilities, BI WORLDWIDE provides end-to-end solutions to implement effective Employee Recognition, Channel Rewards and Customer Loyalty programmes.

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