Evidence Based Management

What is evidence-based management and leadership?

Evidence-based management stems from 4 core sources of information.

Evidence-based management is a smarter decision-making process that combines conscious critical thinking. By the incorporation of the best available scientific evidence and business information we can make better decisions in business.

Evidence-based management foundation is based upon the decision-making process. It thinks in terms of probability. The most frequently quoted and used is the definition by Briner, Denyer and Rousseau (2009):

“Evidence-based management means making decisions about the management of employees, teams or organizations through the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of four sources of information:

1.    The best available scientific evidence
2.    Organizational facts, metrics and characteristics
3.    Stakeholders’ values and concerns
4.    Practitioner expertise and judgment

Now is the time to up your game, leadership, team building, and organisational culture to a higher performance level.

1. What is considered as evidence?

When referring to “evidence” we mean the evidence from scientific research published in scientific, peer-reviewed journals.

What is meant by “best available” evidence?

When referring to “best” available evidence we mean scientific studies with the highest reliability and internal validity.

Reliability has to do with the “consistency” of measurement: the extent to which the study yields the same results on repeated measures. Internal validity is an indicator of the degree research results may be biased. It refers to the extent alternative explanations for the study’s results are possible.

Evidence-based management is about best “available” evidence. In most cases, however, such studies are not available, which leaves us with quasi experiments, correlation studies, surveys or even case studies as being the “best available” evidence. Which from an evidence-based point of view, is still far better than no evidence at all.

2. Organizational facts, metrics and characteristics

A manager, leader or consultant who uses evidence, must take into account the facts of the situation in order to identify what kinds of research findings are likely to be useful.

When exit interviews are used to figure out what’s causing recent turnover, leavers who report a high incidence of job stress can direct the practitioner’s attention to evidence connecting stress with turnover. Knowing the facts of the situation make it easier to seek and use appropriate evidence to identify plausible explanations for a problem, useful interventions, and implementation requirements. Such organizational facts can involve relatively ‘soft’ elements such as organizational culture, employees’ educational level, labor skills, and management style, but can also include ‘harder’ figures such as turnover rates across various groups and departments, workload, and productivity trends.

3. Stakeholders’ values and concerns

Management and leadership decisions, actions, or interventions can have direct or indirect consequences for an organization’s stakeholders.

These consequences affect not only the lower staff, but executives and managers, too. In some cases, the stakeholders affected are outside the organization, such as its suppliers, shareholders or the public at large.

For example, a decision to increase the retention and advancement rates of women is likely to generate pushback from majority group members. Implementing  career building activities in a way that lets all employees benefit can reduce the turnover of women and minorities and increase their advancement, while sending the signal that the employer supports the careers development of employees generally. Attending to stakeholder issues is a key feature of evidence-based decision practices, highlights potential unintended consequences, and is part and parcel of evidence-based practice.

4. Practitioner expertise, refelection and judgement

Evidence is not answers. Evidence doesn’t tell you not what to do, but helps you to make a better decision. Your managerial skills and past experience are therefore vital for determining whether the evidence applies to the individual organization (division, team) at all and, if so, how. Always ask yourself:

– Is your organization / population so different from those in the study that its results cannot apply?
– How relevant is the study to what you are seeking to understand or decide?
– Is the intervention feasible in your setting?
– What are the risks and benefits?

Evidence doesn’t mean anything in itself, it’s a good diagnosis and assessment of the situation that give it meaning. Evidence-based management is therefore impossible without management experience.

For talks, Team Building, coaching and facilitation contact tony dovale on 083-447-6300