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Evidence-Based Management Fads

Over the years, in the course of my work I have attended many management courses. Consequently I was interested to read this by Derek Lowe:

...   The contempt that most of the scientific staff has for "modern management techniques" is hard to underestimate. Problem is, we're used to having to prove our hypotheses, and show data (with appropriate controls, yet) in support of them. But I've suspected for years that most of the management fads that sweep through the world have nothing to back them up at all, ...

Lowe is talking about management fads in the drug industry but much the same holds for the software development industry. 

I particularly remember being shown a graph supposedly proving the effectiveness of Fagan inspections but which consisted of just a wiggly rising line.  The actual data points that the line was drawn through were not shown, so it was impossible to get any idea of the quantity or scatter of the points, or of the statistical significance of the rise in the line.  It might be that the person who drew the graph was ignorant of what is needed to convince people trained in science, or it may be that they were deliberately trying to  cover up the inadequacy of their data.  Either way, the presentation was seriously weakened by that graph.  This a pity, as I now understand that Michael Fagan gathered quite a lot of statistical data which he used to convince the management of IBM of the the effectiveness of his technique.  It was just that we weren't shown any of that data.

I suspect that the data that the SEI CMM framework was based on would not stand up to close scrutiny.   At least, I cannot remember seeing any convincing graphs in any of the CMM presentations or books.

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