by: Sigurd Rinde

A few months ago Bob Sutton graciously sent me his and Jeffrey Pfeffer's latest (available) book - "Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management".

That it took me a few months to read is a good sign - three pages and I get ideas and become massively side-tracked - that's how it should be even if you may suspect that I am a serious slowpoke! :D

On a side note I would have loved it being in electronic form so I could travel with it, no space for heavy hard cover books when travelling hand luggage only. Perhaps that's a publisher's half-truth that he missed out on; that "serious books" have to be big and heavy?

Luckily Bob has a blog now!

In essence he picks six important business "truths" and rebuffs them nicely with quite a selection of relevant examples and much evidence. I enjoyed that, and will try to remember a few of them for future use in discussions.

Bob does the right thing when "attacking" dangerous half-truths and other nonsense; evidence has power, simple as that.
Myself I'm taking more of the "lazy" or general view to the same - as in a former post I simply use a "time-to-question-trigger-mechanism": "The more I hear that something is the truth - the more I’m convinced it’s not so" based on the assumption that we repeat for reinforcement if our intuition gnaws and signals that "hmm, it might not be that at all... but if I can get lots of reinforcement, then I can live with it."

His six points are:

1. Is work fundamentally different from the rest of life and should it be?
2. Do the best organizations have the best people?
3. Do financial incentives drive company performance?
4. Strategy is destiny?
5. Change or die?
6. Are great leaders in control of their companies?

Rounding off with a chapter on how to stay alert and flip evidence into practical use.

The interesting part for me is how we all too often choose the easy way out by accepting some old simplified summary as the "truth" instead of checking the often readily available evidence. The evidence is there in front of our noses, still we choose the chewed, digested sounds-right-but-is-probably-nonsense solutions. Guess we're intellectually lazy after all.

Not ever having been a part of any big organisation (well, once for eleven months actually) but having spent quite some time on Board of Directors on smaller firms I always found at least one Director to show the following traits during meetings: Waiting till all had talked, then offering some general and recognisable "truth" that nicely summed up the discussion. Now exhausted from much bickering and still iffy take on the reality the other directors most often uttered a collective "sigh" of relief and went with the easy-to-understand-truth and the politically-smart director was yet again the hero. A double whammy, we were trapped again in old ways and the trapper strengthened his clout.

Worst thing was that such directors soon built a reputation of being "wise". But not so, one should be better off heeding Bob's advice - "Wisdom: The Most Important Thing" - with wisdom as in "knowing what you know and knowing what you don't know" attitude enabling one to act on present knowledge while doubting what one knows.

Suspect quotes from his book will crop up in future posts herein! And I am looking forward to the release of his new one - "The No Asshole Rule : Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't".

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