I just read “Evidence-Based Management” written by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton and I also read “Good To Great, Or Just Good?” by Bruce Niendorf and Kristine Beck. After I read both of these studies I came to a conclusion that there really is no quick fix to business management. There is a lot of great ideas and evidence out there that works, but whom does it work for? Most of the time the best ways to run a business are going to be unique to that company and it will not work for another.
What I thought was so great about these two studies was that they did not offer a quick fix. They gave the reader the ability to sift through bullshit. Pfeffer and Sutton gave a lot of evidence that using evidence-based management will help a company, and they said you are going to have to do a lot of research to find the best management technique for your company. Niendorf and Beck wanted to teach not believe everything you read. They basically said the statistics in the book Good to Great (GTG) was not done correctly and they manipulated it to say what they wanted.
An example frequently used throughout “Evidence-Based Management” was the forced ranking system used at General Electric (GE). They used GE’s management model to show how their model works for them and example on how it did not work for another company. GE has an evenly distributed ranking system that ranks all of their employees. 70% of their employees meet standards and the rest are either rewarded (the top 20%) or they are counseled and/or fired (the bottom 10%). The forced ranking system works for GE, but it will most likely not work for another company. The ranking system increases competition and negative behavior and it messes with the morale of the employees. In “Evidence Based Management,” managers are recommended to study and research management techniques that have worked for other companies before they implement them.
In “Good to Great, Or Just Good?” Niendorf and Beck did a good job studying and analyzing the data of the top 11 GTG companies to find the flaws in the statistics and their hypothesis. GTG was one of the best selling books and Niendord and Beck saw it had flaws. They were able to show the 11 GTG companies were not great and the GTG model of success was not good enough.
The researchers also made it a point to show their faults. They gave you all the information they had, and they want the reader to figure out if it was good for them or not. Evidence-based management is hard because there are thousands of books and journals that all claim to be the best way to manage. Pfeffer and Sutton let you know that it is hard work to find a model that is good for you and your business.
What I was able to get out of these studies was that you should not go after the quick fix and do some good old-fashioned research to figure what your business needs to succeed.