Make Great Organizational Decisions using Evidence-Based Management
Every day, you make decisions that affect your life, livelihood, and the lives of others. And whether you know it or not, you rely on evidence to make those decisions.
Without a deliberate approach to incorporating evidence into our decision-making processes we can fall into patterns that limit the quality of those decisions. Typically, that will happen because we don’t systematically consider the sources of evidence or their quality. Without evidence-based management, we might turn to:
- Advice from Business Gurus: People who’ve been there and done that. After all, who better to give financial advice than Warren Buffet or entrepreneurship advice than Tony Robbins?
- Organizational Traditions: Doing things the way they’ve always been done. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as they say.
- The Internet: Google, the natural first stop for any research or truth-seeking.
- Our Own Intuition: Our first-hand experiences and understanding of the problem that needs to be solved gives us insight into the solution.
In practice, there’s nothing wrong with any of these sources of evidence, but without evaluating them on their strengths and faults, we can overlook their shortcomings. Business gurus might share strategies that they think worked for them, but they probably don’t work for most. Organizational traditions may have started because of nothing more than a roll of the dice and likely haven’t ever been tested. The internet has all the information you could ever want, but how do you sort the good from the bad? And your intuition is limited by bias and overconfidence.
This is where evidence-based management comes in.
What is Evidence-Based Management?
Evidence-based practices as a set of standards were founded and have been adopted by many fields over the years, most notably in medicine. Incorporating evidence into these practices has helped lead us to better, more efficient and effective processes that have improved countless lives. If you enjoy going to the hospital without the fear or being sucked at by leeches or operated on by unwashed hands, you have evidence-based medicine to thank. In recent years, management theorists and academics have caught on, and have pushed for a set of evidence-based standards to organizational decision-making. This is the opposite of a get-rich-quick approach; it won’t solve all of your problems overnight, but it will help you make better decisions.
Evidence-based management is about making decisions through the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of evidence. This approach doesn’t require you to have a Phd or an army of data scientists, but you do need to be open-minded, curious, thoughtful and at least a little comfortable with numbers. And it doesn’t mean that we throw out intuition in favour of hard-to-understand scientific research. Rather, we incorporate evidence from four primary sources to inform decisions:
Following the general guidelines for evidence-based practice listed above allows you to diagnose and find solutions with input from various sources, incorporating them to the extent that they demonstrate their trustworthiness and relevance.
Are You Ready to Become an Evidence-Based Business?
Schedule a workshop and start using evidence to make better business decisions
How Can Evidence-Based Management Help My Business?
When you make decisions in your business relying on conventional methods, you can fall prey to bias and faulty thinking. An evidence-based approach has a number of important benefits for your business:
- Without the use of evidence, we tend to over-rely on our intuition which can be subject to bias and overconfidence. This process helps us move outside of our own thinking and make decisions based on sound information.
- Decision-making is often spearheaded by the HIPPO (highest paid person in the office). Evidence helps democratize the process, allowing other voices and opinions to be heard.
- You can diagnose underlying problems effectively. All too often, we rush to find solutions without properly evaluating their causes and impact, and put ourselves at risk of throwing resources at issues that may not exist or be worth the effort.
- You can find solutions that work. Using evidence you can determine which solutions have been properly tested and successfully applied to solve your challenge in your specific context. And by assessing the outcomes, you can adjust your approach as needed.