Posted by: Matthew Molinari | April 4, 2011

Evidence Based Manager & GTG (Blog #12)

Being a manager who bases decisions on facts and reasons shouldn’t be difficult but it appears that there is more working against facts than for them. The most difficult things for a manager to overcome is conventional wisdom. This actually seems to make a lot of sense.

A lot of Managers come into the position thinking that they got their based on the skills and knowledge that they already have. This means that, for most, they have all the information they need and going outside of that is unnecessary. Unfortunately, this is the worst characteristic a manager could have. Really, what you know should never be enough and constantly challenging current beliefs, both your own and others in your company, should be the norm.

Even past success should not be considered a sure-fire way to create future success. In fact, when implementing an old plan at a new place, a manger needs to make sure that it still makes sense. In most cases, imitation can usually only make you as a good as the company you’re duplicating was 6 months ago. It would be wise to question, for your business but maybe not your job, if a new hire comes in and starts to implement processes used in their old company. It may have been wildly successful but a different company has so many new variables that may make it a failure. Hopefully, if they are an evidence based manager, they will realize that questions are helpful and not a way to put down an idea. The more a system is questions, the stronger it will become through correction of problems that exist.

The author of Good to Great made this mistake in his analysis of what makes up a great company. Basically, a “great” company was deemed to have certain characteristics that others should follow to also become great. However, something that makes one company thrive can ruin another company. Take the example of United trying to create a new entity that copied Southwest in the hopes of taking Southwest’s business in California. United copied nearly every aspect and in the end, the business tanked.

There is so much more that goes into a company than 2 or 3 characteristics that make it successful. United couldn’t simply take away meals and have their staff dress casual and assume they would over take Southwest. They were able to duplicate the bullet points of Southwest’s success but couldn’t duplicate all the behind the scenes items that really drove Southwest and their employees.

What Good to Great really did was simply point out that several successful companies shared 5 or 6 traits but there wasn’t any real evidence that those traits created success. Sure, successful companies could have happy employees but the real important information is how do they make their employees that way?



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