When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I have to be careful or everything looks like a measurement opportunity to me. Nonetheless, I can’t deny that there seems to be opportunities to implement better measures supporting evidence-based practice (as I suggested in my last post). I think the process would go something like this.
- Identify and scope out the domains of interest that are important to you.
- Conduct systemic reviews to establish a description of the processes that represent best practices within each domain.
- Develop a descriptive questionnaire to allow an organization to compare their current practice with best practices.
- Initiating a change project based on a capability maturity model of process change.
The best practice questionnaire becomes the focal point. It is the measure of your organizations current performance and it provides a prescription for where you’re headed. It’s easy to understand. Also necessary are outcome measures that provide feedback on the validity of the standards to your organization.
1. Complete consensus may not be possible, but at least consensus within a proscribed paradigm should be expected. What the instrument would have the potential to do is to focus research within a paradigm and provide a research platform for many organization to conduct their own improvement projects in the management discipline; similar to what six sigma has done for manufacturing.
2. Which leads to one final caveat. This is not the end all and be all in management decision-making. What this approach does is to provide a framework to organize and scaffold your thinking around evidence-based practice. Science can only provide you with standards; with a description of what has been proven to work in the abstract. Not everything can be proven by science; not everything can be summarized in a standard process. What standards do is to tell you these things work, stop re-inventing the wheel. Put these things into place and then place your development focus on the contextual, the relationship, the imaginative, and other areas where empirical science is less helpful. Knowing where to put your creativity, that’s the real benefit of standards.