At Minerva, we, as industrial-organizational psychologists, are big believers of the scientific method and using evidence that is collected with sound scientific methodology. As such, we want clients to make decisions based on evidence, but—
How does one go about making evidence-based decisions?
In Evidence-Based Management: The Basic Principles, organizational experts Eric Barends, Denise Rousseau, and Rob Briner have identified six critical steps to take before you make a decision.
- Ask a Question that Can Be Answered.
In order to use the scientific method, you must have a question. Identifying an issue is a good start, but then you need to translate that issue into an answerable question. So, instead of simply declaring that customer satisfaction is too low, ask yourself, “which two changes can I make that will have the biggest impact on customer satisfaction?”
- Collect Evidence.
For organizations, evidence can come from four sources: Scientific literature (in particular empirical studies), Professionals (people educated in organizational science like us), Internal organizational data, and Stakeholders (those who will be affected by the proposed change). Be both thorough and systematic in your search for evidence.
- Determine the Quality of the Evidence.
Not all the evidence you collect will be of equal quality. Determine which pieces of evidence are of high quality and forget the rest.
- Consider All of the Quality Evidence.
Sometimes we have a tendency to focus on the most salient piece of evidence. The manager who stops by your office every day to complain about lost sales and blames the losses on sales reps being rude on the phone is likely to be remembered when you are looking at the evidence. Resist your impulse to give any one source evidence too much weight. Pull together all the quality evidence and come up with one aggregated body of evidence.
- Use the Quality Evidence when Making Decisions.
Sometimes we see clients ignore all of the evidence and make a decision based on no more than gut. We acknowledge that statistically if you roll the dice enough, eventually a winning roll will turn up. However, the “gut” can lie; good quality evidence doesn’t. Make your decisions based on the quality evidence you spent effort and time collecting and aggregating.
- Evaluate the Outcome of the Decision.
After you have applied the decision you’ve made based on that quality evidence, don’t forget to go back and assess whether it needs to be tweaked. Use these same six steps to help you determine the efficacy of decisions you implemented.
Try this approach for a few months and then let us know how it has worked for you.
For more information about the effective decision-making, leadership, and teamwork behaviors gleaned from psychological research, visit our blog. Your work deserves to be meaningful and effective. We’ll help you #workwiser.