Many managers think they’ve committed their organizations to evidence-based decision making — but have instead, without realizing it, committed to decision-based evidence making. Is that all bad? What can be done to fix it?
In recent years, much has been written about evidence-based- or fact-based- decision making. The core idea is that decisions supported by hard facts and sound analysis are likely to be better than decisions made on the basis of instinct, folklore or informal anecdotal evidence. And many organizations have invested heavily in data processing infrastructure and analytical tools based on assumption that better evidence-based decision will follow from these investments.
But research by the authors suggests that evidence is not as frequent an input to a decision process as managers like to think. Instead, what occurs is decision-based evidence making sometimes without managers even understanding, that it’s happening. The authors address three key questions: Why does decision-based evidence making occur in organizations? Is decision-based evidence making the necessarily bad? And, if decision-based evidence making is inevitable in organizations, what can be done to lessen its negative impacts?
To help answer those questions, the authors explain how decision making is affected by the contexts in which problems are presented- and how those contexts can demand different ways of using evidence, depending on whether the evidence is being used to make, inform or support a decision