A (rejected) Evidence Based Review

My review of

Evidence-Based Management: How to Use Evidence to Make Better Organizational Decisions which you can buy here

was rejected by Amazon yesterday for not following their guidelines. I think it does, I imagine they objected to the cow in a tornado. Anyway… the review follows…

Thanks to Rob Briner for suggesting I just find another place to publish…

Invaluable and accessible

The book is a hugely practical guide to a methodology that helps organisations with one of their most important challenges: making sure that they are investing time and resource in the right things. Business decision making remains poor and reflective, all too often, of fads rather than intelligent problem solving that is reflective of context and evidence. The book outlines clearly and helpfully they ‘why’ and ‘how’ of an evidence based approach. It’s both an important and useful text that should be on the shelf of any leader in a business who has to make decisions over where to invest time and effort.

If you are busy then your time is at a premium – this book gives you an approach that will help minimise the likelihood of wasted time. I spend a considerable amount of time with some of the best management and leadership thinkers of the day – I’m lucky enough to get a chance to do that – this book is a hugely important work to help you better evaluate everything from the last TED talk you watched (that seemed disturbingly compelling…) through to how you evaluate the request that just came in from your CEO.

It helps you structure your thinking in an age where the quality of ideas is often outstripped by how rapidly they multiply.

Credibility of reviewer: I’ve worked in HR and leadership positions for over 15 years – and am (somehow) well respected in the industry. I spend a good chunk of my time helping organisations and leaders reconsider their approach to both strategic and operational work – both within organisations and as a regular conference speaker and commentator.

Conflicts of interest: I know Eric. I’m a supporter of CEMBA. My organisation has an MOU with CEBMA. Since I’ve been looking forward to the publication there is a huge amount of confirmation bias at play. I expected it to be good and it is.


1. Last time I spoke to Eric properly he told me I didn’t actually work in the real world and needed to get practical – I would offer up my team and P&L as evidence to the contrary – but it’s nice to mistaken for an academic occasionally 🙂

2. Amazon told me shoppers find images more helpful than text alone. So I’ve included a picture by Simon Heath of a cow in a tornado in the hope that this somehow increases the utility of this review.

Notes from Amazon:
A few common issues to keep in mind:

  • Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at www.amazon.co.uk/feedback.
  • We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.
  • Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.
  • Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.
  • Any attempt to manipulate Community content or features, including contributing false, misleading or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited.

How do you value improving others?

I was talking a while back with the very wise Stefan Stern about the notion of talent and where we place value. One of the things I think we genuinely undervalue is the ability to build or realise capacity/capability in others. The ability to support the development of colleagues or your team to be better. This post is about me not being smart enough to solve something.

Throughout my career I’ve known a top tier within this group – a group of leaders that other people tend to find out by repute. People that folk would move organisation or team to work for them – at times even taking a salary hit compared to what they could get on the open market. Despite the fact these people stand out I often think we fail to recognise their value, all too often focusing on the individual contribution. A person’s performance – for me – should be the net amount the business benefits from their presence. That includes the uplift in the performance of colleagues.

So my half baked idea is to try and create a market for these skills by giving that recognition a market value. I’ve been intrigued by an organisation called Satalia recently that have allowed individuals to set their own salaries. I’m wondering how this would work for choice of manager. I have a few ideas – all flawed – but I’d like to hear better ones (I’m using manager and leader interchangeably below – I’m sure some of you will struggle with that and I’m sorry for your struggles. Stay strong)

i) give people a set amount (similar to benefits) that allows them to bid to work for a manager issues: it takes more funds and there’s no guarantee of an uplift in performance

ii) use a pretend currency to allow people to vote who they would like to work for and then reward the managers accordingly issues: votes might well be cast on popularity rather than capability

iii) give managers a cash bonus for successful promotions from their area issues: it could incentivise the wrong type of behaviour and there is quite often a significant lag in terms of working out if a promotion has worked out and causes of success/failure can be varied

iv) ask people to rate their manager based on how well they support their development issues: it falls foul of the popular vs good issue again

It’s clear that I’m coming up short – well short – but finding a way to value something that is undervalued would be quite a trick. We simply undervalue the importance of managers who are localised talent factories (or finishing schools or any term you prefer). Any ideas? Let me know.

We are moving towards letting people take more control of their development – but the biggest influence on most people’s careers is still the people they get the fortune or misfortune to work for…