How To Make More Effective Decisions: Use Evidence

Posted in : Coaching in the Moment on 3 February 2020
Karl O'Connor
OCN Coaching Champions Ltd
Issues covered:

Picture this commonplace scenario: you have just arrived into a new city and you want to book a suitable restaurant, but where do you start? For example, you could check Trip-advisor, ask the hotel concierge, consult with family and friends who have visited the city before for their recommendations or walk the surrounding area to research possible options.  The core of your final restaurant selection decision is based on some critical thinking and drawing on the best available evidence.

In our coaching interactions with managers at all levels, we encourage them to adopt a similar approach to decision-making back in the workplace. Management decisions should be evidence based, leading to better judgment calls rather than simply relying on anecdotes, received wisdoms and other possible untrustworthy sources.


Coaching in the Moment: use evidence based decision -making

The Challenge

You have to make a decision but you don’t know where to start. With so many different and, at times, conflicting sources of information, how do you make the correct call?

The Solution

Use an evidence-based approach to your decision-making.

Takeaway Actions

Combine your sources of information then follow a structured 6 step approach (see below)


With so many sources of information available, both factual and fictional, and when combined with our conscious and unconscious bias, it can be hard for a line manager to make the correct decision. For evidence-based decision making, we encourage managers to look a little deeper into how they might leverage data, research and insights to help inform their professional judgement.

In essence, there are four sources of evidence that, when combined, lead to effective decision making. The four sources are: scientific management literature, organisational data, internal and external stakeholders and the use of practitioner expertise and judgment.

At a recent Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)* Manchester Conference, Bob Briner, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Scientific Director, Queen Mary College of London and David D’Souza, Membership Director , CIPD, explored the challenges  Human Resource professionals have to decipher when they’ve enough data and to separate the important from less important information. They made the case for combining these four sources of evidence to make informed decisions. They outlined a structured six step way to do this, namely:

  1. Asking – translating a practical issue or problem into an answerable question.
  2. Acquiring – systematically searching for and retrieving evidence.
  3. Appraising – critically judging the trustworthiness and relevance of the evidence.
  4. Aggregating – weighing and pulling together the evidence.
  5. Applying – incorporating the evidence into a decision-making process.
  6. Assessing – evaluating the outcome of the decision taken.

This evidence based approach to decision making can help you to make better informed decisions, not alone around restaurant selection, but in the world of management this approach will lead to better results.

*For those who are members of the CIPD, check out the Factsheet Evidence based practice for effective decision-making.


This article is correct at 03/02/2020

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Karl O'Connor
OCN Coaching Champions Ltd

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