From the 2010 Archives: Six Steps To Becoming An Evidence Based Manager

Six steps are the basic building blocks in becoming an evidence-based manager.  These steps are basic elements in our Evidence Based Management courses [at The Center for Evidence-Based Management (CEBMa)].  Evidence-based management is a decision-making process. Its decisions follow a well-established process and integrate the best available information from science, your organization and its stakeholders, and your expertise. It means actively managing your professional decisions and ongoing attention to the information you use to make them.

1. UNDERSTAND WHAT EBMgt MEANS.

Take a look at accounts of what EBMgt is.  See Briner, Denyer, & Rousseau (2009) Evidence-based management: Construct clean-up time? in the Collaborative’s archives. (Practice explaining what EBMgt is to your colleagues. Their questions will help develop your understanding of what it is and isn’t.)

2. MAKE YOUR DECISIONS MORE EXPLICIT.

Analyze a recent decision you have made (alone or with colleagues).

  1. What steps did you take at each stage? What information did you use?
  2. Did some information influence the decision more than others?
  3. Is some evidence missing?
  4. How close or how distant are your decisions to the features of EBMgt?

3. ASK “What’s the evidence for this?” WHEN ASSERTIONS ARE MADE WITHOUT CLEAR LINK TO EVIDENCE.

Develop a questioning mindset toward assumptions stated as facts either by you or others.  This approach can inform your conversations and deliberations. It helps shift the mindsets of people you work with, opening up inquiry for more facts and knowledge.

4. DO DIRECTED READING ON SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE RELATED TO YOUR WORK.

Check out the business section of your local bookstore for books that cite research articles as a basis for their ideas. Avoid books without citations or linked only to pop writings, so-called experts, or news magazines.

Or, go to your local library and search on-line sources of scientific articles. For example, search ABInform or Web of Science for articles that are peer-reviewed (this typically means that the quality of articles has been independently approved by a panel of scientists).  Be sure to check the box that says ‘peer-reviewed’ when you search.

5. MAKE FRIENDS WITH PEOPLE WHO KNOW HOW TO FIND SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE.

People who know where to find evidence have what is called POINTER KNOWLEDGE—business or social science librarians, college professors, or researchers and evidence-based consultants in your areas of interest. Information searches are easier when you go through people before going to the internet or library.

6. SET PERSONAL LEARNING GOALS TO IMPROVE YOUR DECISION MAKING PROCESSES.

Examples:

a. Regularly integrate organizational facts, potential stakeholder effects, and scientific evidence into my decisions.

b. Make After-Action Reviews of decisions with my colleagues and subordinates to assess strengths and needed improvements.

c. Develop a cognitive tool (e.g., checklist, decision model such as Yates’) to follow when making any important decision.

d. Regularly do directed readings of science-based publications on ongoing professional issues (e.g., talent management, market trends, problem-solving processes)

You are on your way to developing your professional acumen and changing your conversation with your colleagues.   Go to Collaborative’s archives for a more details on this post.