We all know this ideal is far from reality, but in Is Decision-Based Evidence Making Necessarily Bad?, Sloan Mgmt Review offers 3 levels to define the role of evidence:
- to make a decision – when data really does lead to a decision
- to inform a decision – when other factors such as judgment and bargaining play a role too
- to support a decision – when data is looked for that confirms the decision, and crucially, when disconfirming evidence is avoided or rejected.
They make a case that such ‘decision-based evidence-making’ (!) is not necessarily bad, but seem instead to make a case for the middle category – using what useful evidence can be had, plus judgment – and offer tips:
- Assess how much potential there is for evidence to support a certain decision.
- Weigh the costs, benefits and risks of seeking and using evidence.
- Differentiate between internal and external audiences in the use of evidence.
- Make sure evidence gathered at cost and effort is reflected in decisions (assuming you looked for the right evidence, I guess).
Good tips – and I wonder how often we genuinely step back and think about these issues, rather than just get on with it?