Scanning Horizons: Data Driven Practice

Summary: Without standards, data becomes more important in guiding practice.  Construct Measurement is also important to generate data that is relevant and of high quality relating to practice.

I proposed that management education and practice should become much more experimental and data-driven in nature — and I can tell you that it is amazing to realize how little business know and understand how to create and run experiments or even how to look at their own data!  We should teach the students, as well as executives, how to conduct experiments, how to examine data, and how to use these tools to make better decisions.  Dan Ariely (2009) in Technology Review

A second horizon exists where measurement is needed, but no standards exist.  Without standards, experimental methodology is another reasonable path.  Important tasks are to design measurement and to develop a clear logic leading from experimental results to improved practice.  Six sigma is an example of this kind of approach.  What can make it perplexing is the difficulties in developing measures when practice is rooted in social variables.  This calls for building measures based on complex educational, social or psychological constructs on which to base experiments.  Some companies that follow a balanced scorecard approach could be improved by the better measurement of relevant constructs.