The Economist reports that “Some apartment building owners now require tenants provide a DNA sample of their dog so that unscooped poop can be penalized.” Alex Pentland of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has invented a “sociometric” badge that measures tone of voice, gestures, and propensity to talk or listen.
The current trend towards evidence-based management for decision-making increasingly devalues opinions alone.
What is Evidence-Based Management?
Evidence-based is a term that derives the field of medicine in the 1990s, but it’s principles extend across disciplines as varied as education, criminology, public policy, social work, and most recently, management. Because an evidence-based practice supports making decisions through conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of the best available evidence, it sequentially demands:
- Asking: translating a practical issue or problem into an answerable question
- Acquiring: systematically searching for and retrieving the evidence
- Appraising: critically judging the trustworthiness and relevance of the evidence
- Aggregating: weighing and pulling together the evidence
- Applying: incorporating the evidence into the decision-making process
- Assessing: evaluating the outcome of the decision taken
According to the Center for Evidence-Based Management (CEBMa):
Our mission is to promote, develop and teach evidence-based practice to enhance the profession of management. We provide support and resources to managers, consultants, teachers, academics and others interested in evidence-based management.
Research published by the Harvard Business Review discovered that:
Evidence-based management is conducted best not by know-it-alls but by managers who profoundly appreciate how much they do not know.
What better role to administer support of an evidence-based process than a facilitator?
The Harvard writers conclude:
If taken seriously, evidence-based management can change how every manager thinks and acts. It is, first and foremost, a way of seeing the world and thinking about the craft of management; it proceeds from the premise that using better, deeper logic and employing facts, to the extent possible, permits leaders to do their jobs more effectively. We believe that facing the hard facts and truth about what works and what doesn’t, understanding the dangerous half-truths that constitute so much conventional wisdom about management, and rejecting the total nonsense that too often passes for sound advice will help organizations perform better.
From an Agile perspective . . .
. . . while Scrum builds itself around an empirical practice, Michael Bodé suggests the following adaptation:
“EBP (Evidence Based Practice) gives a framework for the higher level decision making process than is implied with Scrum. Though there is certainly an emphasis on using empirical data, Scrum fails to explicitly guide the practitioners in the decision making process. If we translate an evidence-based practice into project management, we create the following:
- Asking: What will the minimum viable product (MVP) look like such that it produces value?
- Acquiring: What are the PBIs that will accomplish the goal of the MVP and produce value?
- Appraising: What is the level of complexity of PBIs and their applicability to accomplishing the business value (acceptance criteria)?
- Aggregating: What different categorizations, prioritizations, and business values do individual and aggregate PBIs produce?
- Applying: What PBIs should we plan for sprints and releases based on the priority, categorization, and business value information?
- Assessing: What shift in PBIs do we need to execute based on current progress and other factors?”
While opinions and feelings consistently slip in discussions, without much challenge, best-of-breed facilitators will become increasingly sensitive to challenge for facts, evidence, and examples, while discounting vague assertions. We remain convinced that the intuitional (or integral as Ken Wilbur calls it) appeals to a higher sense of reason than the purely rational. We appreciate that the rational or mental mind typically produces higher quality decisions. Because the rational demands evidence more than relying on the emotional feelings and opinions that are constantly filtered by personal bias.
Want to increase the quality of your deliverables? Increase the amount of challenge and demand for more evidence-based proof, as the most complex decision makers do. In God We Trust, but everyone else bring evidence.
Evidence-Based Management: The Basic Principles, Barends, Rousseau & Briner, Center for Evidence-Based Management, 2014.
Evidence-Based Management, Pfeffer and Sutton, Harvard Business Review, January 2006.
Evidence Based Process as applied to Scrum and Facilitation, Michael Bodé, MS 2015
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