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Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-based Management

Book Description

The best organizations have the best talent. . . Financial incentives drive company performance. . . Firms must change or die. Popular axioms like these drive business decisions every day. Yet too much common management “wisdom” isn’t wise at all—but, instead, flawed knowledge based on “best practices” that are actually poor, incomplete, or outright obsolete. Worse, legions of managers use this dubious knowledge to make decisions that are hazardous to organizational health.

Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton show how companies can bolster performance and trump the competition through evidence-based management, an approach to decision-making and action that is driven by hard facts rather than half-truths or hype. This book guides managers in using this approach to dismantle six widely held—but ultimately flawed—management beliefs in core areas including leadership, strategy, change, talent, financial incentives, and work-life balance. The authors show managers how to find and apply the best practices for their companies, rather than blindly copy what seems to have worked elsewhere.

This practical and candid book challenges leaders to commit to evidence-based management as a way of organizational life—and shows how to finally turn this common sense into common practice.

Table of Contents

  1. Epigraph
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Table of Contents
  5. Dedication
  6. Preface
  7. Part One - Setting the Stage
    1. 1 - Why Every Company Needs Evidence-Based Management
      1. Poor Decision Practices, and How to Recognize and Avoid Them
      2. What Is Evidence-Based Management?
      3. What to Do When There Are No Sound Data Available
      4. The Focus on Dangerous Half-Truths
      5. Making the Difficult Job of Managing a Little Easier
    2. 2 - How to Practice Evidence-Based Management
      1. Obstacles on the Road to Implementing Evidence-Based Management
      2. Use Sound Logic and Analysis
      3. Some Guidelines for Evaluating Management Ideas and Knowledge
      4. Wisdom: The Most Important Thing
  8. Part Two - Dangerous Half-Truths About Managing People and Organizations
    1. 3 - Is Work Fundamentally Different from the Rest of Life and Should It Be?
      1. What Is Supposedly Different About Work?
      2. Work Doesn’t Have to Be Different from the Rest of Life
      3. The Benefits of Keeping Work Separate from the Rest of Life
      4. The Benefits of Integrating Work with the Rest of Life
      5. Striking a Balance
      6. Accommodating the Rest of Life May Actually Be More Efficient
    2. 4 - Do the Best Organizations Have the Best People?
      1. Why Smart and Skilled People Fuel Performance
      2. Why an Obsession with Individual “Talent” Can Be Hazardous to Organizational Health
      3. The Right Kind of Talent
      4. Prestige, Pride, and Performance
    3. 5 - Do Financial Incentives Drive Company Performance?
      1. What Incentives Can Do
      2. The Growth in Incentive Pay
      3. Incentives Signal What Is Important, but the Signals May Be Blunt
      4. Incentives Motivate—Sometimes the Wrong Behavior
      5. Incentive Systems Do Attract Talent—Often the Wrong Kind
      6. Variable Pay = Pay Dispersion = Lower Performance
      7. Guidelines for Using Incentives
    4. 6 - Strategy Is Destiny?
      1. Strategy as a Source of Success
      2. Why Strategy May Not Be That Important: The Logic and the Evidence
      3. What to Do About Strategy
    5. 7 - Change or Die?
      1. Is the Change Worth Doing?
      2. Does Change Need to Be Difficult and Take a Long Time?
      3. What to Do About Change
    6. 8 - Are Great Leaders in Control of Their Companies?
      1. Leaders Make a Big Difference
      2. Except When They Don’t
      3. Why the “Leaders Make a Big Difference” Half-Truth Persists
      4. Should Leaders Be in Control of Their Organizations?
      5. What Should Good Leaders Do?
      6. Getting Beyond the Half-Truths of Leadership
  9. Part Three - From Evidence to Action
    1. 9 - Profiting from Evidence-Based Management
      1. Implementation Principles
      2. A Different Perspective on Leadership
  10. Notes
  11. Acknowledgments
  12. Index
  13. About the Authors