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

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  394 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
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, legion ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published 2006)
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Farnoosh Brock
Apr 13, 2013 Farnoosh Brock rated it did not like it
Shelves: business-spirit
This is one difficult and dull book to read and here's the thing: Management DOES NOT NEED to be difficult or complicated and neither do books about it have to be as such.

While I respect the advice of a senior director who suggested it to me years ago, after months of making various casual and semi-serious attempts at digging into this, I give up! I perused through some of it, read a few chapters, and was mostly unable to fully appreciate the philosophies outlined in "Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-
...more
Jered Skousen
Sep 20, 2008 Jered Skousen rated it it was amazing
Chapters 1 & 2: The Case for Evidence-based Management
In too many businesses, we do things because of tradition or “everyone knows you should.” Not all of those assumptions are correct.
How to recognize the poor decision practices:
1) Casual Benchmarking. A few case studies are cited, often by those that have already drawn conclusions.
2) Doing what seems to have worked in the past. Why did it work? Sure it was the reason for success?
3) Following deeply held but unexamined ideologies. High
...more
Em
Jul 13, 2011 Em rated it liked it
Shelves: work
i like the principles in this book and the fact that it's written for a "lay" audience, and would probably recommend it to master's level students. it is not, however, rigorously supported with evidence the way you might expect a book about EBM to be (and i think therein lies the problem with trying to convince non-academics to take an academic approach).
Infini
Mar 06, 2012 Infini rated it it was ok

If you had my contentious little soul, you too would like to pick up a book titled "Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense", and see if it does indeed live up to the promise of its title.


Written by Stanford Professors, Robert Sutton and Jeffery Pfeffer, this book first came to my attention through an article in The Economic Times back in December 2005. I'd even blogged it on Core77. So when I had the unexpected good luck to have Prof Sutton email me asking me if I'd like to take

...more
Tomasz
Aug 30, 2012 Tomasz rated it liked it
The book is about evidence-based management, which is the opposite of management where decisions are taken upon ideology or beliefs that are not based on facts.
it covers areas like:
- work-life integration
- selecting talent
- structuring rewards
- how much to emphasize strategy
- managing change
- leadership

My personal take-aways from this book:

1. It's very important to encourage people to deliver bad news because it helps to spot problems earlier and fix them faster which results in making less dama
...more
Amanda
Jan 12, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, school
I love data. I appreciated that this book really dove down into the data and evidence behind evidence based management practices should be followed and what should be thrown out entirely. Just because something has been done a certain way for eons does not mean it is the right or best way. How often have projects been started without stopping to consider if they are rooted in evidence or likely to succeed in the first place? I especially loved the chapter on leadership and how leaders get too mu ...more
John Stepper
Jan 15, 2012 John Stepper rated it really liked it
It seems so obvious. So much of what we call management is unthinking and ineffective. And the authors are among the few well-credentialed people to point this out and back it up with solid evidence.

Performance management. Recruiting. Leadership. All of what we typically do simply isn't based on any evidence. I fact we plunge ahead *despite* the evidence.

The book's major accomplishments are that it will convince you to question the seemingly unquestionable practices and motivate you to do somet
...more
Dave
Apr 15, 2007 Dave rated it liked it
It starts out great. It really brings home the idea that very few if any business practices are ever really tests. People make assumptions that not only they never question, but that eventually become part of established business literature.

Then it slowly devolves into your standard blah blah business text where the points are so vague, or contradictory, as to make the book not that worthwhile.

But the essentially point is good. If you want to know if something is working, test it.
Mark Polino
May 08, 2011 Mark Polino rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
There are some great ideas in this book and they are totally obscured by the way the book is written. The book actually focuses on Dangerous Half Truths more than anything. The problem is that half truths are half true so the authors end up praising an item, then debunking it then suggesting its useful if not taken to the extreme. Isn't that effectively the definition of a half truth?

There was enough in here to keep me reading to the end, but I couldn't wait to get there.
Douglas
Mar 27, 2009 Douglas rated it did not like it
The irony of this book can't be overstated. In the chapter about the difference between correlation and causation (which explains ad nauseum how people confuse the two), there is a section about social promotion in schools, that lays out a cost argument... based on correlation.

And that's one of the most analytical pieces of the book.

I am a few hours closer to death. I want that oxygen back.
Matt
Nov 18, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it
In Hard Facts..., Pfeffer and Sutton explore a lot of commonly held management beliefs. They present how the management practices may not be grounded in reality by comparing to solid data. Overall, I think the book was an enjoyable read.

My one critique is that I occasionally found it difficult to separate the belief they were describing from the evidence based approach they were suggesting. The distinctions were sometimes subtle.
Mark Dongen
Apr 13, 2013 Mark Dongen rated it really liked it
A great book that takes an analytical look on fads in management. Too many theoreis are assumed or believed without facts to proof them. An easy readable book, that gave me a lot of interesting views one existing beliefs, which makes you think twice before accepting new ideas in management.

I think a recommended read, not for holidays, but for people interested in management theories and their (true) value,

Mark
Mandy
Dec 01, 2010 Mandy rated it liked it
I had to read this book for a business school class. If you are a business person, it is an interesting book to read because it gives insights into exactly where companies are going wrong with many of the management decisions they make. It is easy to read and worth the time if you are interested in evaluating the company you work for.
Mike Clayton
Jul 25, 2008 Mike Clayton rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: MBA students, Managers
Recommended to Mike by: Plant GM
One of series of anecdotal evidence that flys in the face of many other business/management writers. Easy to read and popular with many managers who hate the consultants that are always selling them new slogans, half-baked ideas, etc.

Reminded me of Huff's old book, "How to Lie with Statistics" or my yet unpublished book, "The Illusion of Control."
Krishna Kumar
May 05, 2015 Krishna Kumar rated it it was amazing
The authors describe evidence-based management in this book. They explore various situations in business environments, such as financial incentives and change management, in the light of evidence from research. They emphasize how business leaders and managers must avoid decisions that are based on unproven assumptions and instead look closely at real facts.
Esther
Jan 26, 2011 Esther rated it really liked it
A down to earth and clear book about Evidence Bases Management. Esp funny in chapters about the search for "corporate saviors", the leaders who know best and can solve problems by magic. Neglecting evidence about the importance of context and collaboration.
Kim
May 13, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it
I am not a non fiction reader and not much patience for business books, but this one is a slightly academic myth busters for business. I enjoyed having much of my distaste for fads and easy answers being justified.
Christophe Druet
Jun 06, 2016 Christophe Druet rated it really liked it
There is more than truths in this book about some management fads. Anyway, the proposed approach, i.e. evidence-based management, makes sense and those not willing to implement it should question their own beliefs.
Joseph
Jan 17, 2008 Joseph rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book about as much as one can enjoy a business book. Well written and good solid arguments. Not a bunch of just anecdotal stories and evidence like so many of these type of books can be.
Kip
Apr 08, 2008 Kip marked it as to-read
Part 1 of review: It's refreshing to have someone say so boldly that we make important decisions in silly, superstitious, ill-informed, non-reasoned fashions. It's maddening to wonder what we learned in college when we have to invoke a book to get these ideas across.
Ryan Giles
Jan 20, 2008 Ryan Giles rated it it was amazing
I'm in the middle of this book, and I have to say that it is eye opening. It provides a great road map for evidence based management instead of chasing the latest fads. A must read for every manager and aspiring manager.
Jakub.lipinski
The book full of wisdom. the evidence based one. I wish I can make most of it
Angie
Jun 24, 2012 Angie rated it it was ok
not as good as other books written solely by robert sutton. this one was a chore to finish!
AC Capehart
Sep 27, 2011 AC Capehart rated it it was amazing
Recommended to AC by: Ginsu Yoon
My favorite "business" book so far. A compelling case for evidence based management
Heather
Oct 26, 2007 Heather marked it as to-read
Shelves: leadership
Recommended by Chet Miller for info on incentive programs, leaderhip and the best people
Bill Sawyer
Bill Sawyer rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2016
Max Metcalf
Max Metcalf rated it liked it
Dec 27, 2016
Natsuko Wakinaga
Natsuko Wakinaga rated it it was amazing
Feb 11, 2017
LUMBAN I PARDEDE
LUMBAN I PARDEDE rated it liked it
Mar 24, 2015
kemal
kemal rated it really liked it
Nov 27, 2016
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Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University where he has taught since 1979. He is the author or co-author of thirteen books including The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First; Managing with Power; The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action; Hidden Value: How Great ...more
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