Evaluation and Control Warning Flag 2 – Absence of Evidence as Evidence of Absence

StrategyDriven Evaluation and Control Warning FlagWhen examining organizational performance, assessors too often fall into the trap of concluding that the absence of adverse outcomes indicates a lack of underlying performance issues. This is an evidential fallacy. Many organizational shortfalls exist without causing consequential outcomes for reasons of redundant barrier prevention, lack of recognition, or simply blind dumb luck. The lack of a noticeable consequence does not necessarily equate to an absence of an issue; it simply means that the problem itself, up until the point of examination, has not manifested itself in a substantial outcome.


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About the Author

Nathan Ives, StrategyDriven Principal is a StrategyDriven Principal and Host of the StrategyDriven Podcast. For over twenty years, he has served as trusted advisor to executives and managers at dozens of Fortune 500 and smaller companies in the areas of management effectiveness, organizational development, and process improvement. To read Nathan’s complete biography, click here.

Recommended Resources – Freakonomics

StrategyDriven Recommended ResourcesFreakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt and
Stephen J. Dubner

About the Book

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner challenges conventional thinking by using economic analysis to uncover the underlying causes of everyday life events. Steven and Stephen reveal that economics is simply the study of incentives and that by understanding incentives one can reveal the hidden truth about why people behave as they do and the results consequently achieved. Freakonomics examines the commonly held myths surrounding:

  • Campaign finance
  • Cheating schoolteachers and sports players
  • Crime rates
  • Child-rearing

Why You Should Read This Book

StrategyDriven Contributors like Freakonomics for its logical approach to cause and effect analysis. Steven and Stephen examine problems from an unconventional viewpoint, unwilling to accept conventional wisdom as to why the world works as it does. Through their relentless pursuit of the truth, they expose many of society’s falsely held beliefs and reveal the incentivized behaviors driving the results we observe.

While sometimes controversial, Freakonomics represents the questioning attitude StrategyDriven promotes. Steven and Stephen push to find the highly quantified correlations between cause and effect necessary for sound decision-making. And although based on strong analytical principles, Freakonomics is written as a collection of easy-to-understand stories.

Freakonomics does not present a step-by-step method of performance improvement common to those books we typically recommend. However, it clearly conveys the importance of relentlessly asking those questions and performing those analyses necessary to gain an understanding of the true drivers of performance and is therefore a StrategyDriven recommended read.

Evaluation and Control Program Best Practice 5 – Don’t Break the Mirror

Evaluation and Control Program Best Practice - Don't Break the MirrorFeedback mechanisms serve as a reflection of an organization, business unit, department, or individual’s performance. At times, these mirrors reveal exceptional performance; in other cases, good or satisfactory performance; and in some instances poor or unacceptable performance. Too often, the individual or group holding the mirror, whether a performance metric, an internal self-assessment, or a third party audit, is blamed for the performance indicated. Regardless of who provides the performance report, this person or group should not be attacked for identifying instances of success or failure.


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Evaluation and Control Program Best Practice 4 – Show It Visually

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Fred R. Barnard

Individuals at all levels of an organization are under increasing pressure to do more and more in less time. Concurrently, they are bombarded with rapidly growing amounts of data that must be synthesized and processes into usable information and applied to their everyday decisions and actions. Consequently, methods of presenting information in a more rapidly digestible fashion greatly benefits the receiver and increases the likelihood that the conveyance will be recognized, understood, and acted upon.[/wcm_restrict]


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Additional Information

Additional information on the creation of high quality graphs, including their construction and the types of graphs to use for differing situations can be found in the StrategyDriven Organizational Performance Measures whitepapers Construction and Types.

Evaluation and Control Program Best Practice 3 – Assess the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Thomas Murner (1475 – 1537)
German satirist and poet
Author of Appeal to Fools

Many business professionals almost singularly focused on identifying and fixing ‘the ugly’ – shortcomings that result in their organization’s most adverse outcomes. This focus is understandable as extremely poor performance can cause irreparable damage. The approach, however, omits critical examination of a range of organizational performance, ‘the good’ and ‘the bad;’ placing the organization at risk of achieving only suboptimal performance.


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