October 22, 2009

Evidence-Based Management

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:10 pm by ctennert

I think I am woefully naive, then.  What else besides evidence would guide decision, whether it be in the medical industry, or a corporation or small business?  There is so much research, and so many studies have been done on practices and products, it is unfortunate people in positions of power do not take advantage of them, and base their practices off this information.

It is interesting that doctors and managers will base their decisions, and run their practices off of knowledge they gained in school that very well could be obsolete, (schooling is necessary though, don’t get me wrong), long-standing but never proven traditions, patterns gleaned from experience, the methods believed are most skilled in applying, and info from vendors with products and services to sell.  I believe these procedures are utilized out of pure laziness or fear of the unknown, and what they may find out about that they are possibly doing wrong.  Bad people in power are usually proud, and probably don’t want to be told they are not making the best decisions.

I agree that medicine, like management, is a craft that is learned over time.  Practice makes perfect, as long as you are getting the right kind of practice.  Basing your decisions off of the attitude “because that is just the way we have always done it,” is dangerous, and promotes single-loop learning.  Businesses who have this state of mind, usually make decisions to capitalize on their own strengths.  The article also talks a lot about benchmarking.  If you copy what another alleged successful executive or company is doing, you will simply be a copier.  Not to mention, what works for one company or individual, may not work for another because they may be dramatically different in size, sell two different things, use different distribution methods, or target totally different markets, to name a few.

I believe a successful company, and a great one to work for, will place emphasis on teams, training and job rotation, and not place emphasis on status differences among employees.  Nordstrom is a perfect example of how not to follow these suggestions, and SWA is an example of how a great company operates.  And as always, good practices have to come from the top on down, and managers should demand evidence before integrating a new procedure or product, for example.  A good manager is one who is a double-loop learner:  “Evidence-based management is conducted best not by know-it-alls but by managers who profoundly appreciate how much they do not know.”

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