when do managers decide based on evidence?

In my workplace flexibility course, we had an interesting discussion of Bob Sutton and Jeff Pfeffer's Harvard Business Review article on evidence-based management a few weeks back.

More recently, I stumbled across the blog for the Evidence-Based Management book, and was intrigued by this entry on Lovaglia's law. Professor Lovaglia, a sociologist, asserts that people are least likely to make decisions based on evidence when it seems most crucial -- when the outcome of the decision seems most important.

With my students, I discussed when managers make use of the evidence about the benefits of flexible work practices, and when they ignore the evidence (and suffer the consequences in terms of lower morale and productivity, higher turnover and worker stress and burnout).

We also talked about the kinds of evidence available to managers, and the possibility of gathering evidence as organizational changes are implemented that would allow managers to assess wither the interventions are having the desired effects.

I'd be curious to hear from managers about how and when they use evidence in their decision-making, and from others about how they see businesses making decisions. What kind of evidence counts for you? What kinds of evidence get ignored?


I find that in my business that when I had a flexible work week, less things got done. I feel my employees took advantage of it. Maybe I didnt do a good enough job of hiring them but since I placed a rigid guidline more work is being done. I just tend to reward with a day or two every month where we go go-karting or bowling.
I would be interested in hearing what others say. Will you be posting those here?

Posted by Jason on April 23, 2007 11:46 PM

Too often businesses only accept one form of evidence: the bottom line. They ignore problems that crop up until they can't afford to ignore them, and then they are addressed -- when it would have taken much less time, effort and resources if they had nipped it in the bud.

In my opinion the best kind of evidence for managers (and businesses as a whole) is documentation. Everything in business should be documented -- not just the processes, but the results of the processes as well. Evidence and data are synonymous... and we are living in the information age after all, aren't we?

Posted by Philip Green on April 24, 2007 12:42 AM

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