Types of evidence and where to find it

A business strategy based on clear evidence is more likely to be accepted, believed, supported and executed than one which is based on opinion and supposition. A business strategy that is tracked with objective evidence-based KPIs is more likely to be followed through to a successful completion.

But not all evidence is created equal.

Here are some different types of evidence, arranged in order from weakest to strongest:

  1. Opinions:

    Opinion is the weakest form of evidence.

    Some might argue that opinion is not evidence at all. But an opinion from an experienced and informed person is often based on evidence they've encountered in the past.

    Sometimes, the person holding the opinion has forgotten what the original evidence was and can't clearly explain why they hold that opinion.

    But, when you encounter an interesting and relevant opinion, it can provide you with clues to look for other stronger forms of evidence that may (or may not) support the opinion.

  2. Anecdotes:

    Anecdotes are simple stories about things that happened.

    They're a stronger form of evidence than opinions because we know they actually happened.

    But they're still not very strong because they're not statistically valid. We can't know if what happened has ever happened before or will ever happen again. I could be a once in a lifetime outlier which is the exact opposite of what normally happens the rest of the time or will ever happen again.

  3. Qualitative evidence:

    Qualitative evidence is information about what people believe, understand, think or feel about something. Think focus groups.

    Good qualitative evidence can be very rich. But it is still not statistically valid. We don't know, for example, how widely held those beliefs are.

  4. Quantitative evidence:

    Quantitative evidence is information about the number of people or organisations who do or say something. Think surveys or other forms of data gathering.

    Good quantitative evidence is usually not as rich as good qualitative evidence. But, if it's collected and analysed correctly, it can be statistically valid, and this can give you greater confidence that is both true and generalisable.

So, where do you find this evidence?

You can find evidence in many places:

  1. Structured interviews and meetings. With any and all stakeholders: staff, customers, suppliers, board members, industry experts, etc.

  2. Company documents: historic plans, company reports, contracts, proposals.

  3. Trade press for your industry.

  4. Networking and attending events.

  5. Industry analysis and reports from trade bodies and regulators. (Often called secondary research.)

  6. Structured research like surveys and focus groups that you conduct yourself (or pay someone to do for you) to answer a specific question or questions. (Often called primary research.)

The key in all of the above is to remain curious at all times.

Whatever evidence you use, and wherever you find it, StratNavApp.com will help you record, analyse, process, and incorporate it into your business strategy. You can capture meetings, competitor analysis and strategic insights and link them all together and to your strategic goals and initiatives. Making sure your business strategy is rock solid.


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