Borrowing from evidence-based medicine, let’s foster evidence-based management

A review of a book about “evidence-based medicine” launched this post. Essentially, EBM emphasizes tests and data collection as the guide to the efficacy of medical interventions. Don’t rely on doctors’ anecdotal conclusions, but deliberately gather figures and wade into the statistics of whether aspirin reduces heart disease or flu shots reduce H1N1.

In the domain of legal department operations, we sorely need EBM — Evidence-Based Management. We need data on the efficacy of legal services. Unfortunately, we cannot run controlled experiments, only natural experiments (See my post of Aug. 1, 2006: natural experiments.). We can gather benchmark metrics from law departments that subscribe to a certain practice and the same metrics from otherwise similar departments that don’t. Similarly, we can dig much deeper into practice group metrics to start to untangle – with the insights of statistics – the effects on performance and productivity of different structures and practices. We can accumulate evidence of effectiveness and gradually clear some of the jungle of ignorance. Evidence for management practices from benchmarks are the best we can do.

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