Most popular press about industrial psychology topics makes me twinge.  It usually creates a train wreck between human behavior and management and makes over generalizations that fit into neat boxes which do not exist in practice.


At the same time, academic journals can often lag behind effective practice.  That’s not meant as a criticism.  Careful scientific study of anything takes time and if that means that a particular technique achieves acceptance before researchers give it the thumbs up, so be it.  This process is also how we debunk most of what makes it into airport books.

I bring this up because a friend of mine referred this article to me.  It was in a respectable publication and brings up a challenging idea—that feedback from other people is not all it is cracked up to be and that we gain more improvement by focusing on our strengths rather than our weaknesses.  It is a provocative idea which challenges a lot of notions in performance management, 360 processes, and coaching.

But, alas, there is very little data cited in their article, or that shows up in a search of research, that supports the ideas.  Well, except for other articles written on the topic by one of the authors which also lack data.  This does not mean that they are wrong.  Only that we have no objective way to know if they are right.  That really bothers me.  Especially when designing and executing a good study would not be difficult.

We should all be more evidenced-based in what we do.  That should also include the authors of articles and books.  But, I guess that hurts airport sales.