Evidence-based decision-making: top barriers and skill requirements for Australian businesses

Samuel TanAPAC Data Journalist / B2B Content Manager
December 15, 2022, 10:00 AM GMT+0

Although 93% of senior business leaders in Australia believe evidence-based decision-making is important for business success, 41% say many or most of their company’s decisions are made on ‘gut feel’ or instinct alone – with 81% reporting that their business suffered consequences because of this.

In this three-part article series on the state of evidence-based decision-making in Australia, we unpack the findings of our national survey of over 500 senior business leaders from small, medium and large organisations.

In Part 1, we explore the correlation between business leaders’ perception of their company’s level of evidence-based decision-making and the quality of those decisions. We also look at how evidence-based decision-making varies by organisation size and the management level of respondents.

In Part 2, we explore the major business costs of not using evidence-based decision-making, and the top benefits business leaders report seeing when it is practiced.

In Part 3 – this article – we explore the common challenges faced by businesses in implementing evidence-based decision-making, and the skills business leaders say are most important in surmounting this.

What are the top challenges of practicing evidence-based decision-making?

Latest research by YouGov reveals that over four in five senior business leaders across small, medium and large organisations (83%) say that their business faces barriers towards evidence-based decision-making. This sentiment is highest among C-suite executives, where more than nine in ten say so (94%), and lowest among leaders of small and medium-sized enterprises, but even then almost three-quarters agree (73%).

Among senior business leaders of small to mid-sized organisations with 1-99 employees, the top barrier to practicing evidence-based decision-making is the lengthy amount of time needed to collect relevant information to do so (32-48%).

For small businesses of fewer than 20 employees, availability of relevant information for evidence-based decision-making is the next biggest barrier (31%). For medium-sized businesses with 20-99 employees, the second biggest major barrier is the cost of sourcing relevant data for evidence-based decision-making (46%).

Meanwhile, senior business leaders of organisations with 100+ employees report that the biggest barrier to implementing evidence-based decision-making is handling senior management that is resistant to change (42%), followed by the cost of sourcing relevant data and information (39%).

Want a FREE copy of our full report on the state of evidence-based decision-making in Australia and Singapore? Let us know here.

What skills are most valued for the practice of evidence-based decision-making?

Senior business leaders were also asked to indicate the skills most valuable for future employees to have to support more evidence-based decision-making in their organisation.

Among C-suite executives, around two in five indicated problem solving (42%), analytical thinking (39%) and research skills (39%) as the three most valuable skills to have.

Among directors and senior managers, more than three in five indicated critical thinking (62%) as the most important skill for supporting evidence-based decision-making, ahead of problem solving (57%) and analytical thinking (50%).

Meanwhile, among senior business leaders of small and medium sized enterprises, more than half pointed to problem solving (55%) as the most valuable skill, followed by open-mindedness (50%) and critical thinking (49%).

In conclusion, there is a growing awareness amongst senior business leaders that shifting behaviour and organisational culture to embrace evidence-based decision-making will require future employees to have the right skills and mindset – with the most valuable skills being: the ability to solve problems, think critically and analytically, as well as having an open mind when considering potential paths of action.

Want a FREE copy of our full report on the state of evidence-based decision-making in Australia and Singapore? Let us know here.

Read YouGov’s latest research on the state of evidence-based decision-making in Australia, in our three-part article series:

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Methodology: YouGov RealTime Omnibus provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online from 30 September to 4 October 2022, with a national sample of 509 senior business leaders from small, medium and large Australian businesses. Respondents included business owners, C-suite executives and senior managers/directors and were sourced from the YouGov panel. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender and region to be representative of all adults residing in Australia (18 years or older) and reflect the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) population estimates. Learn more about YouGov RealTime Omnibus.