Evidence-Based Management

In HBS article, “Evidence-Based Management,” Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton explore how the practice of evidence-based medicine makes sense for managers in organization to utilize as well.  Often organizations and managers look for one-size fits all approaches to drive success within their organization, when in reality this type of practice makes little sense.  What works for a large multi-national corporation may not work for a small start-up business operating locally. 

Pfeffer and Sutton assert that under this model, managers can be more effective by seeking out new knowledge and evidence gathered from research performed inside and/or outside of their companies and using that knowledge to update their assumptions, skills, etc.  What I think is most critical about this statement is to look inside and outside one’s company.  Managers should ask themselves if the type of action/methodology they want to take is actually applicable to their company. 

When companies try to mimic the success of their competitors, they often fail to pinpoint the actual reason(s) for that success.  Generally the company will find answers on the surface when digging deeper would reveal much more.  Pfeffer and Sutton give some examples such as United trying to imitate Southwest’s success in the California market or companies who tried to emulate GE’s ranking system only to find that it had the opposite effect on their organization.  If managers at these organizations had further evaluated the solutions and asked questions about whether their organizations were similar enough for it to work and what the solution’s success rate may have been at various companies, they would have seen that one-size fits all solutions do not exist.

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