“Moneyball Government” – Evidence and Trials in the “Court” of the Organization

In the past year, several ideas have dominated the discourse on improving government.  A couple of months ago, the President called for improving the management and results of government.  A recent OMB Memorandum, M-13-17, specifically calls for “evidence based management” and calls for the use of “random trials” to explore and experiment with promising new ideas.


There is much to think about in the advent of so-called “Moneyball government.” Another term for what is purported to be “evidence-based government.” it all SOUNDS sexy and good.  But… The notions of “evidence” in complex domain challenges don’t seem to be as claimed.  In large part because the presumed “evidence” is derived from highly variable interactions leading to significant differences in data.  Running government isn’t like doing a random clinical trial on a new drug.   Government leaders can’t isolate a system to a single variable, or control their sample population characteristics and behaviors. 

Big Data and predictive analytics will no doubt make many firms wealthier, but I must wonder if the so-called evidence-based practices wouldn’t be outperformed by the human sense-making seen in the “practice-based evidence” counter-movement.



For What It’s Worth, I agree with Dave Snowden, the principal of Cognitive Edge.  We think… and hope… that well-trained subject-matter experts, acting as an aligned team of observers and sense-makers, will outperform the “moneyballers.”  Time will tell

This entry was posted in Adaptive Capacity, Change, Complexity, Continuous Process Improvement, Government Improvement, Innovation, Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

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