When you’re trying to make a decision, do you rely on hunches, conventional wisdom, or your previous experience? Or maybe even flipping a coin?
Have you ever tried applying a more formal, evidence-based approach?
The University of the Fraser Valley invites people tasked with decision making in their work or personal life to explore the Evidence-Based Decision Making (EBDM) method in an online course offered by UFV Continuing Education. It starts February 13.
The Evidence Based Decision Making (EBDM) course will teach professionals how to identify, collect, and analyze data they need to make defensible decisions.
The course was developed in collaboration with the City of Surrey, Canadian Safety and Security Program, and the authors of The Right Decision: Len Garis, UFV adjunct professor and Fire Chief of the City of Surrey, and Paul Maxim, a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Balsillie School of International Affairs.
“With EBDM, people learn to make decisions they can justify, based on sound evidence. This will lead to better results, more effective management, and increased credibility,” says Liana Thompson, UFV director of continuing education. “We’re pleased to see wide interest in this course in the firefighting and policing human resource development fields. It’s getting a lot of attention in these sectors, and we want to ensure that other sectors are aware of it as it is applicable in many areas.”
The course was recently featuired in Canadian Police Chief magazine, in a story authored by course designer Garis.
The course explores the role of critical thinking, different forms of data-gathering, and the use of statistics, and also teaches participants how to organize, review and evaluate the decision-making process.
“Collecting and using data to make evidence-based decisions isn’t just for scientists and academics,” noted co-author Maxim. “It’s a skill that can and should be learned by anyone in a leadership position, or anyone who strives to be in one. Whether you are a business executive, government professional, or fire or police chief, your decisions can make the difference between success and failure in your organization, and in your career.”
EBDM has grown increasingly important as both business and government agencies alike face shrinking budgets, a growing demand for efficiency and accountability, and the effects of unstable global economic conditions.
Typically, people make decisions in both their private and professional lives based on what they have learned through experience or training, on conventional wisdom, or on past practice. Yet even though these methods do not always achieve the desired results, people are often reluctant to change their approach.
As noted in The Right Decision, “Humans are stubborn beasts with a tendency to defend any coveted untruth against the best of reason and evidence.”
EBDM is rooted in systematic study and data collection and leads to sound and defensible decisions. It is a more transparent process, letting outsiders see and understand the foundations of a decision.
UFV’s online course strips EBDM down to the basics, providing an effective tool to justify an approach or choice. Participants are guided through the process of finding and using information needed to make evidence-based decisions, and then positioning their decisions in a way that will convince others of their merit. Case studies help to link the concepts to the real world.
The City of Surrey, which has embedded EBDM in its corporate culture, is requiring new leaders throughout its organization and fire service to complete the UFV course. “This course will be very relevant to supervisors, department heads, managers, directors, deans, and senior admin positions,” says Thompson “Anyone who is making important and impactful decisions can benefit from learning more about EBDM.”