Bob Sutton is a professor of
Management Science and Engineering at Stanford Engineering School and one of my all
time favorite authors and commentators on innovation, management, and
creativity in business.
In their book on evidence-based management, he and Jeffrey Pfeffer, hold that: “Evidence-based management is based on the belief that facing the hard facts about what works and what doesn’t, understanding the dangerous half-truths that constitute so much conventional wisdom about management, and rejecting the total nonsense that too often passes for sound advice will help organizations perform better”.
Michael Lovaglia, a Professor and Department Chair in the Sociology Department at the University of Iowa, wrote to Sutton and Pfeffer and proposed Lovaglia's Law:
The more important the outcome of a decision, the more people will resist using evidence to make it.
As Professor Sutton writes, “…Clearly, the more important the decision, the more people involved stand to lose and gain, and the more strongly they push for outcomes that enhance their self-interest rather than are best for everyone involved.”
David Maister took this one step farther.
“I have always been
fascinated by the fact that (in spite of what they teach us in school) logic,
reason, rationality and sensible analysis seem to play so little part in human
But David’s comments are really interesting. He is highly, diversely and “well” educated, yet he says “The more I think about this, the more outraged I get that my education positively encouraged me to ignore these considerations, and focus instead on advanced logical skills so I could pass the exams at the end of the semester.”
Are Maister’s, Sutton’s, and Lovaglia’s views in conflict?
Or are they merely
different perspectives of the same situation?
What do you think (my thoughts tomorrow!)?