Book Review - Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense
So how much of that business "conventional wisdom" is really true (or even wise)? Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton make a great case for evidence-based management in the book Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management.
Part One - Setting the Stage: Why Every Company Needs Evidence-Based Management; How to Practice Evidence-Based Management
Part Two - Dangerous Half-Truths About Managing People and Organizations: Is Work Fundamentally Different from the Rest of Life and Should It Be?; Do the Best Organizations Have the Best People?; Do Financial Incentives Drive Company Performance?; Strategy Is Destiny?; Change or Die?; Are Great Leaders in Control of Their Companies?
Part Three - From Evidence to Action: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management
Notes; Acknowledgments; Index; About the Authors
The main gist of Hard Fact is that the common and conventional wisdom so often parroted in business today isn't really based on hard evidence to back it up. Some platitudes have been repeated and taught so often that it's just accepted as true, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Pfeffer and Sutton take a look at how these half-truths are acted upon, why they can be persuasive (and wrong), and how the evidence points to a very different conclusion, if only people would step back and question the assumptions. For instance, my favorite chapter was the one on leaders being in control of their companies. You can find thousands of books on leadership, all showing how leader X was decisive, wise, executed flawlessly, and otherwise walked on water. This general view of "great leaders" has lead to the ever-elusive search for the savior CEO, exorbitant compensation packages, and general neglect of the business in favor of personalities. The hard evidence shows that often the success of a company is more based on other factors, such as the market, people, systems in place, or just plain "being in the right place at the right time". True, solid management is a factor, but not as much as common wisdom would dictate. This chapter, as well as the others, will make you sit back and question your assumptions. Which, you really should be doing anyway...
You may not agree with all their conclusions, but the underlying premise is dead on. Just because everyone assumes it to be true, doesn't make it so. This should be required reading for senior management in all organizations...