Social science careers, the future of work & evidence-based management

This week I did a podcast with King’s College London on business careers for social science researchers.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Postgraduate students are not always aware of the different career paths that are available to them, which is something King’s is trying to tackle. I believe there are some great opportunities that people should think about, especially now.

Social scientists clearly have some important business-relevant skills. These include working with data, producing insights, presenting findings and arguing your case.

In the podcast, I suggest that these kinds of skills are going to become even more important in the future. Technology is already having a big impact on work. Routine elements of jobs are being automated. There are new and emerging cognitive technologies. As a result, what companies need more of is people who can exercise judgement and reasoning. In fact, in an age of AI and machine algorithms, human judgement, critical thinking and problem solving become even more important.

On top of this, what companies have more and more of is data – and not just numbers, but increasingly text, images and video. People who can develop insights from all these data are already in high demand. That’s especially true if you can also communicate those insights through storytelling.

According to the World Economic Forum, the top business skills are soon going to be things like analytics, critical thinking and complex problem-solving. On top of that, workers will need to be a life-long learners. They will also need to be able to teach others new skills in turn.

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There are potential derailers. I have seen social science PhDs who are too rigid in their thinking and not practical enough. You have to be prepared to try things out. “Good enough” is sometimes an important principle.

But there is a growing movement of people who are interested in evidence-based practice in business, and this plays to many social science researchers’ strengths.

According to Rob Briner, evidence-based management means making “a conscientious, explicit and judicious use of the best available evidence.” This means using multiple sources and adopting a structured approach of inquiry and appraisal. In other words, it’s about applying social science rigour to business data and decision making.

Copyright The Center for Evidence-Based Management (CEBMa) - the leading authority on evidence-based practice in the field of management and leadership.

I hope to see this movement grow over time. In the realm of people analytics, which I am particular interested in, for example, there are immediate benefits from evidence-based practice. When it comes to people and performance, it’s far better to explore the evidence than to rely on intuition and gut feeling.

Let me know what you think of these points and feel free to connect with me here on LinkedIn or on twitter @nickl4. I’m always happy to link up and to offer advice if I can.

Please note: The image above is Copyright of The Center for Evidence-Based Management. CEBMa is the leading authority on evidence-based practice in the field of management and leadership.

Tags: #PeopleAnalytics #SocialScience

This article was first published on LinkedIn on December 9, 2019.

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