What is Evidence Based?

A succinct illustration of what the term ‘evidence based’ signifies comes from Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton at Stanford University. One of their principles of evidence-based management is: “Be committed to ‘fact based’ decision making—which means being committed to getting the best evidence and using it to guide actions,” (Pfeffer & Sutton, http://evidence-basedmanagement.com/).

The medical industry provides a simple analogy for the meaning (and importance) of evidence-based research. You might ask, ‘What else besides evidence would guide medical decisions—matters of life and death?’ Studies have shown that only about 15% of physicians’ decisions are evidence based. For the most part, doctors rely on obsolete knowledge gained in school, long-standing but never proven traditions, patterns gleaned from experience, the methods they believe in and are most skilled in applying, and information from hordes of vendors with products and services to sell. In short, what guides them is what they believe rather than the latest and best knowledge of what actually works  (Sackett, D. et al., 2002. Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Teach and Practice EBM. London: Wolfe)

The challenge for leaders is to determine whether their current leadership approach is evidence based, or based on out-of-date practices and persuasive but misguided advice. 

For more information on Evidence-based management: http://evidence-basedmanagement.com/

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