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Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management Hardcover – March 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591398622
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599041148
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Named one of the “Highlights from the Decade” in strategy+business magazine.

About the Author

Jeffrey Pfeffer is Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Robert I. Sutton is Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. They coauthored The Knowing-Doing Gap (HBS Press, 2000).

More About the Author

Robert Sutton is a Stanford Professor, organizational researcher, and best-selling author. His six management books include New York Times bestsellers "The No A**hole Rule" and "Good Boss, Bad Boss." His forthcoming book (with Stanford's Huggy Rao) is "Scaling Up Excellence." It is the first major management book on tackling this crucial and universal challenge, and is the product of a seven-year effort by Rao and Sutton. To learn more about the book, read new posts and articles on scaling, and to contribute your own story or ask Rao and Sutton questions, please visit www.scalingupexcellence.com.

Sutton was named as one of 10 "B-School All-Stars" by BusinessWeek, described as "professors who are influencing contemporary business thinking far beyond academia." Sutton is an IDEO Fellow and co-founder of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Center for Work, Technology and Organization, and Stanford Design Institute (the "d.school"). He has written over 100 academic and popular articles and chapters, and over 1000 blog posts. He often leads workshops and gives speeches about his books and is academic director of several Stanford executive programs including Leading for Strategic Execution and (with Huggy Rao) Customer-focused Innovation. Sutton blogs at www.bobsutton.net and tweets @work_matters.

Customer Reviews

This should be required reading for senior management in all organizations...
Thomas Duff
Yet, as I read the book, I kept looking for the HARD FACTS and found a lot of references to Half-Truths.
Earl Beede
If you're in business, you should buy, read, and apply what you learn from this book.
Walter H. Bock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

193 of 200 people found the following review helpful By Gaetan Lion on March 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is an outstanding book written by two business and engineering Stanford professors. Analyzing modern management practices using surveys and studies, they debunk many of modern management practices. According to their studies, pay-for-performance does not work. Companies that had the widest range of pay scale between top and bottom performers also suffered the poorest financial results. So, pay-for-performance does not translate into superior stock performance. Similarly, forced ranking where employees performances are clustered in three different buckets (top 20%, middle 70%, and bottom 10%) where the weakest bucket is expectedly weeded out does not work either. Companies using this system have been plagued with an employee force with low morale, high turnover, and low productivity.

The authors debunk tens of other well established managerial practices. These practices are often so well established that no one seemed to question them until these two academic types came along. By doing so, they have done a great service to the business community by opening our eyes using the scientific method.

So, why have such practices that seemed to be part of corporate capitalism not work so well? According to the authors' analysis it is because they all foster a winner take all mentality. They reinforce an individual star system. That works well in individual sports like alpine skiing where it is one individual against the clock. The corporate business world is more like a team sport. Soccer comes to mind. One star within an otherwise demoralized team does not stand a chance against a motivated high performance team. In the corporate world it gets even more complicated than that because the team concept extends way beyond the walls of the corporation.
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95 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Robert on July 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Pfeffer and Sutton's book Hard Facts takes 276 pages (including index) to make one simple point - business leaders cling to miracle cures and don't do the work or homework necessary to become evidence based managers. This is a good insight, but hardly new (try Richard Pascale's Managing on the Edge, 1990, or any Dilbert cartoon). It also treads a similar path to Sydney Finkelstein's earlier book "Why Smart Executives Fail" (2003) and both have similar tables of contents, observations and conclusions. Personally I'd recommend Finkelstein, especially for Chaper 10.

The cover asks "Are you making the right decisions" and leaves the reader to wonder if they are. The first 214 pages illustrate through anecdotal evidence, and some limited analysis, that:
- organizations would perform better if leaders applied evidence better
- implementing evidence based management is difficult
- integrating work and rest of life is good (is this really central to the book?)
- wise people are better than intelligent ones and they must be nurtured
- strategy is something senior people aspire to, without fully appreciating how difficult it is to formulate or implement it
- there are advantages to getting change done quickly
- leadership is difficult and bad leadership is dangerous

At times it's difficult to see the coherence of these diverse ideas, maybe they are nothing more than a list of ideas. I agree with most of the ideas, but they're not new nor original. The test of an idea is in the action, so my expectation was that this book would deliver in Part 3 "From Evidence to Action".

Part 3 is a big disappointment.
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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Coert Visser on April 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ever since I read his book "Competitive Advantage through People" I have bought every book Jeffrey Pfeffer has (co-)written. And I have never been disappointed. All his books both are consistent with and build on his previous work and add new and interesting angles. When this new book by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton was advertized I had a slight worry about its title. It sounds so decisive and self-assured .... I worried whether it wouldn't be too pretentious. Management surely is not only a matter of applying knowledge! It is also dealing with uncertainty, improvisation, choices etc....

But after reading the book, I can (again) say that it is fantastic. It fully acknowledges 'the other half of management' (the parts where you can not yet rely on proven knowledge).

The authors pose some brilliant questions like: is work fundamentally different from the rest of life and should it be? Do the best organizations have the best people? Do financial incentives drive company performance? Is strategy destiny? Is the reality of organizations nowadays "change or die"? Are great leaders in control of their companies?

Do you think you know the answers to these questions? And if you do, do you know what these answers imply for you actions as a manager? I bet you will learn a lot by reading what Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton have to say about these things (like I did).

This book is jammed with intruiging thoughts, packed with practical wisdom and a true inspirational read!

Coert Visser, http://www.m-cc.nl/solutionfocusedchange.htm
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