The Importance of Evidence

Introduction

Evidence is critical in discharging management responsibilities in business today. One of the big changes between how business was conducted in the 1990s and how it is conducted today as we move into the second decade of the new millennium is the emphasis now put on decisions and actions to be “evidence-based”. In the previous century this was not so. Then, executives and managers would routinely act on decisions based on judgement calls arising out of discussions that were not written down or on information not retained or simply on “gut feel” – a phrase that, in the business context, usually refers to pattern-recognition, the instincts that make a manager good at his or her job. It would be both risky and unprofessional to take this approach today. Courts of law, regulators, auditors and other interested third parties look for evidence to support the decisions taken, especially where those decisions turn out, with hindsight, to have been sub-optimal – an executive euphemism for what are commonly known as mistakes! If there is no evidence to support the decision-making process and it turns out that mistakes have been made, then the directors and managers concerned are always vulnerable to accusations that they had not discharged their responsibilities properly and had therefore been negligent.

Examples

There are many examples today of the need for business decisions to be based firmly on evidence. Consider the following three examples that ...

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