Gas vs brakes

It’s easy to think that people always need more gas to get going: More motivation, more evidence, etc. Often, though, the issue is that the brakes are too strong. You can think strategically about removing constraints vs. providing motivation.


Bancroft, J., Graham, C. A., Janssen, E., & Sanders, S. A. (2009). The Dual Control Model: Current Status and Future Directions. The Journal of Sex Research, 46(2–3), 121–142.

Kalil, Thomas. “Policy Entrepreneurship at the White House: Getting Things Done in Large Organizations.” Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, vol. 11, no. 3–4, July 2017, pp. 4–21.

To get to concreteness, you need to figure out how your organization actually works. “A does B so C.” Then, there are steps to making a request:

  1. Are they able to do what you’re asking? Is it actually within their sphere of possibility?
  2. If it is, are they willing, but not able due to some blocker or constraint? There are some brakes applied somewhere; can you get those brakes to ease up?
  3. Are they able, but not willing? There isn’t enough motivation or evidence for them to take action. Can you give it some gas? (always be looking for evidence, triangulated with what the org cares about right now)
  4. If it requires collaboration, is there a forum in which that collaboration can occur? It can be easy to create a forum. (p. 10)