Excuse Me. Where Is Your Evidence?

LMSTAT-2013- l green

Note: I am just as guilty as anyone else on this. Not having the answer to that question with me at all times.

But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ponder it publicly in a post.

And perhaps YOU will share the Evidence – with us all – one way or another.

But First, Let Me Digress 

As the 2013 ISPI Conference is coming up, BTW one of the three that I will have missed since 1980, I have been pre-reflecting on my missing my annual Booster Shots on EBP in PI.

a.k.a./ also known as: Evidence Based Practice in Performance Improvement.

Booster Shots, plural, as there were many in my mainstay for professional rejuvenation.

Often very much required after a full 12 months of tilting at windmills, professionally, without new blood, new thinking, rejuvination.

And THAT got me thinking… about…

Back in the day some one at NSPI/ISPI would stand to challenge the presenter – mid-sentence at times – with the simple request: “where’s your data?” – often rejoined with a challenge from the other side of the room with: “and data is plural.”

In other words, no “N’s of one” please.

And I imagine I always smiled, having just learned that what I had just heard from the stage was now suspect.

For those challengers knew their stuff, knew The Evidence, a.k.a.: The Research, inside and out.

And of course I would learn even more if and when the challenge and responses continued, a give and take in the kindest of lights, and something more brutal in another light. So this was discouraged by The Society. Too unpleasant from a Speaker’s perspective, for sure.

But for the audience, priceless.

The Very Leading Edge Is Often The Bleeding Edge

For a reason.

I’m thinking new fangled technology here. Stuff from say just the last 5 years.

Perhaps many of you are early adopters.  So you need to place yourselves back 5 years and then continue, and note, the whole world isn’t on that leading edge like you, so you are non-representative of all, except for of course, the early adopters.

So don’t “be over-generalizing by over-personalizing” your perspective – please. Because many struggle with new things and things new. They aren’t the early adopters willing to sustain a failure here and there. And sometimes that is quite wise on their part.

The Reason Those Exchanges Are Priceless

At least for me, they were priceless.

I often am able to quickly see applications for things that I learn.

And then I look for opportunities to make these new ideas practical, and if they cannot be, I bail right there.

So when I learn new things, albeit new to me, I believe I tend to immediately think through “the hows” – after this new idea/thing passed non-consciously through some “why – and – so what” filter of mine.

But my personal filters, my prior knowledge, often does not include The Research, The Evidence, and that quite frankly has always worried me. For I wished to be Research Based, and not some form of Voodoo Based, Foo Foo Based, “Hey, I’ve Got THIS Hammer, and it’s definitely, absolutely THE ONLY Hammer ANYONE Would EVER Need or want. And sometimes it is those people, with THEIR very nice Hammer, that present, and share, and sell….

But sometimes you need a saw.

I was and am a consultant (since 1982) and I was/am often in new Enterprise landscapes of “purpose, process, philosophy and practice” –  and I most always need to be able to generalize from some basis, something concrete, to get from the current state to a future state that made business sense, in terms of ROI of any “likely worst-case” and not the “most unlikely/Blue Moon worst case” imaginable.

And if you want your solution-set to actually work, and make improvements from the Baseline, you probably want to concern yourself with things that actually have worked, have been proven to work under and in known situational variables, such as a Process with certain, key, attributes, supported by both the various Human Capabilities and Capacities, and the various Environmental Support Capabilities and Capacities.

It’s that simple. :)

So – I should have an idea about what works and under what conditions.

For one size never fits all. Right?

I should hear challenges to new things (albeit new to me) and be able to sort the Wheat from the Chaff, the Fact from the Fiction,  the Valid from the Faddish, and the Valid Practices from the Foo Foo Practices.

And – to be able to Adapt whatever I cannot Adopt.

Adapt What You Cannot Adopt


IMO – Most of the Time You Will Need To Adapt

Not because of the not invented here syndrome exactly, but partially.

Because if it wasn’t invented here, it wasn’t developed with our specific situational variables in mind, or found in the alpha, beta and Pilot-Test test criteria. How could it have?

And – so it isn’t going to quite fit, as in “if the shoe fits wear it” – will it?

Not unless this is your, and others, Lucky Day!

Not that that doesn’t occur from time to time, confusing us about our personal and/or group brilliance, and confusing us about what it takes to retrofit anything new into something established.

So hearing the points/counterpoints of a dialogue between the claimant and interrogator on anything new, or a new application of something old, is of great interest to me. A Learning Experience.

And BTW – I learn less from the old One Way Street methods, especially where I don’t get to drive along, I am forced to just park it.

That’s also why I prefer synchronous as my default (unless there are good reason for asynchronous – as there most often are)… and I prefer interactive (driving along) versus passive (parked)… and I am very content to lurk in the background and offer myself the opportunity to really listen and to process what I am hearing – versus having the added burden, leading to cognitive overload more quickly, if I have to also parallel process my witty questions or challenges or compliments, so that I seem behaviorally engaged; because cognitive engagement is harder to measure for the other parties, and they may need reinforcement from our outward behaviors as they can’t see the cognition.

So simply smile and nod your head. Especially when everyone else is doing so. For it’s all about them, the Presenter/ Speaker/ Facilitator – in many cases.

If it was all about you, me, the participants, then my lurking and learning, often a natural cognitive precedent to a more behavioral  active learning,  then no one should complain. For given the opportunity and enough time, I may just come along. I might stand up on the other side of the room, and voice my challenge, state my question, and/or make my compliment, actively.

What Do The Learning Curves Look Like?

Down at the bottom left to start – on this graphic…


And then, over time with appropriate attention, upward and rightward….

In the New and Future Media

How do we facilitate that, in the design of the tools and/or in the design of their applications?

The climbing of the Learning Curve?

And more quickly helping early adopters bringing others along? Those laggards!

Learning Laggards.

And how do we facilitate 2-Way and Many-Way conversations, of not just anybody with an opinion, and you know what that means, but with those who are experts who both Present/Share – and Question/Challenge/ Compliment?

I want to see that Crowd. I want to join and lurk & learn, and then more actively learn, from the right people and right resources.

For it’s just too easy to fall into the wrong Crowd IMO. And then spend more time at the bottom left of the Learning Curve – especially once it shifts to a Performance Curve.


To my many friends at ISPI – I will miss you GREATLY this year – in Reno.

For the North calls.

My project in Toronto.

# # #

One comment on “Excuse Me. Where Is Your Evidence?

  1. Thank you for this post. It brings to mind exchanges I have read about involving business leaders and how they gauge where their organization is and why. Being a car guy myself, I recall an anecdote about how Bob Lutz often operated in meetings with those that reported directly to him. He would often make big claims intentionally so he could elicit the most honest opposition – if it existed – as possible, and make decisions based on that. And that I think is something many need to keep in mind in exchanges that appear to confront. It could just be that someone is looking to see what else is there, rather than simply to selling an alternative concept or lobby for a different solution.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.