Evidence-based Management

"...the growing pile of studies on the human and financial costs of employee disengagement, management distrust, poor group dynamics, faulty incentive schemes and other preventable damage suggests a need for an evidence-based management movement.

Some organizations are leading the way. It’s time for many more to follow suit."

Jeffrey Pfeffer & Bob Sutton: Trust the Evidence, Not Your Instincts

New York Times, September 3, 2011


The Five Principles of Evidence-based Management

  1. Face the hard facts, and build a culture in which people are encouraged to tell the truth, even if it is unpleasant.
  2. Be committed to "fact based" decision making -- which means being committed to getting the best evidence and using it to guide actions.
  3. Treat your organization as an unfinished prototype -- encourage experimentation and learning by doing.
  4. Look for the risks and drawbacks in what people recommend -- even the best medicine has side effects.
  5. Avoid basing decisions on untested but strongly held beliefs, what you have done in the past, or on uncritical "benchmarking" of what winners do.

“Most managers are notoriously subjective, prone to manage by anecdote, quick to adopt best practices, and fond of big, visible initiatives. But the evidence from McKinsey’s database suggest that a company’s performance and underlying health are much more likely to be improved by a combination of complementary practices - especially those that provide for clear accountability, help set goals and priorities, and encourage a high-performing corporate culture. Top managers would be wise to base their actions on this evidence of proven success and not on prevailing wisdom and myths, however seductive.”

Keith Leslie, March Loch and Bill Schaninger: “Managing Your Organization by the Evidence”

McKinsey Quarterly, 2006 Number 3