I once had a conversation with a cardiologist about a brand new drug. This drug had been released literally days before and this physician told me he was already using it. Despite my background in pharmaceuticals (or maybe because of it) I was taken aback. I asked him what experiences he had that led him to begin to prescribe it.
“I don’t need any. The data is there.”
The physician was trained to respect evidence-based medicine. Indeed the majority of physicians now practicing are trained to consider the results of scientific studies and give that evidence more weight than their own, limited experience. Evidence-based medicine is serious business with doctors.
Why is business different?
In the organizational world, we tend to believe that managers get better by being managers. As you gain years of experience, we mindless believe, then you become better and better at managing. Surely, there is something to be said for experience. However, managers must realize that their experience is anecdotal. Just because it worked once with a certain team in a certain organization doesn’t mean it will work again in a different arena. In medical history, placing too much emphasis on individual experience led to doctors drilling holes in patients’ brains to cure headaches and draining life-giving blood from sick patients. In management, it leads to poorly managed, burnt-out teams.
But there’s hope. Medicine has progressed because of centuries of scientific studies. Likewise in management, there is nearly a century of scientific study and analysis of organizations and management. This series of posts is designed to serve as a mini-medical school or managers, giving a summary of the various management research and theories that these studies have produce.
Learning these theories is the first step to practicing evidence-based management.