“Big E” vs. “little e” evidence, and probabilistic thinking.
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1. It’s tempting to think there’s a hierarchy for data: That evidence from high-quality experiments is on top at Level 1, and other research findings follow thereafter. But even in healthcare – the gold standard for the “gold standard” – it’s not that simple, says NICE in The NICE Way: Lessons for Social Policy and […]

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The lean way to present to decision makers. (This isn’t a TED talk.)

There’s plenty of advice about designing presentations. But little of it prepares you for delivering complex evidence to senior-level decision-makers. This should help. How might your evidence help someone understand the steps required to reach an important goal? 1. Put together lean evidence, embracing lean management concepts. As explained by the Lean Enterprise Institute, “The […]

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Underwriters + algorithms, avoiding bad choices, and evidence for rare illness.
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1. Underwriters + algorithms = Best of both worlds. We hear so much about machine automation replacing humans. But several promising applications are designed to supplement complex human knowledge and guide decisions, not replace them: Think primary care physicians, policy makers, or underwriters. Leslie Scism writes in the Wall Street Journal that AIG “pairs its […]

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Algorithm reluctance, home-visit showdown, and the problem with wearables.
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Yikes, evidence-based decisions are taking on water. Decision makers still resist handing the car keys to others, even when machines make better predictions. And government agencies continue to, ahem, struggle with making evidence-based policy.  — Tracy Altman, editor 1. Evidence-based home visit program loses funding. The evidence base has developed over 30+ years. Advocates for home visit programs […]

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False dichotomy: Data-driven vs. gut-feel
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Smart decision-making is more complicated than becoming ‘data-driven’, whatever that means exactly. We know people can make better decisions if they consider relevant evidence, and that process is getting easier. But too often tech enthusiasts dismiss people’s decisions as based on gut feel, as if data will save us from ourselves. Let’s put an end to […]

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Analytics teams need to be insight integrators.
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1. Lori C. Bieda of SAS is spot on, describing how analytics professionals can grow into roles as trusted advisors for senior executives. In The Translation Layer: The Role of Analytic Talent, she explains that “Analytics teams… need to evolve from data providers into insight integrators.” Lots of detailed observations and recommendations in this white […]

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Don’t show me the evidence. Show me how you weighed the evidence.
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Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that if people just had access to all the relevant data, then the right decision – and better outcomes – would surely follow. Of course we know that’s not the case. A number of things block a clear path from evidence to decision to outcome. Evidence can’t speak for […]

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‘What Works’ toolkit, the insight-driven organization, and peer-review identity fraud.

1. Abundant evidence → Clever synthesis → Informed crime-prevention decisions The What Works Crime Toolkit beautifully synthesizes – on a single screen – the evidence on crime-prevention techniques. This project by the UK’s @CollegeofPolice provides quick answers to what works (the car breathalyzer) and what doesn’t (the infamous “Scared Straight” programs). Includes easy-to-use filters for […]

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Randomistas fight poverty, nurses improve youth outcomes, and decision support struggles.

1. Jason Zweig tells the story of randomistas, who use randomized, controlled trials to pinpoint what helps people become self-sufficient around the globe. The Anti-Poverty Experiment describes several successful, data-driven programs, ranging from financial counseling to grants of livestock. 2. Can an early childhood program prevent child abuse, crime, drug abuse, and neglect? Yes, says […]

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