Thinking like a scientist

7th April 2016 |   Professor Nick Lee

Here are some simple thinking tools to help with problem solving and make us better managers.

If someone asked you whether you were certain that your sales incentive programme was effective, what would you say? What about if they asked whether you knew whether your firm’s advertising was working? Or how about if they asked if you knew the impact on sales success of increasing the amount of new sales calls your salespeople did?

Would you say yes, you knew the answer? If so, how?

In fact, it’s the case that very few people really know the answers to these questions, and the many others that sales managers face every day. How then do managers make decisions about how to most effectively allocate resources?
In my experience, most do it using a combination of one part “gut-feel”, a little bit of “how-we-do-things-around-here”, and perhaps a dash of “this-is-what-I-was-told-to-do”. That said, we shouldn’t feel too bad about this, because that’s how most decisions in business seem to be made, even in today’s big-data world. In fact, it’s usually even worse in politics, because there’s often a large helping of dogma and ideology thrown in!

Professor of Marketing at Warwick Business School | + posts

Nick Lee is Professor of Marketing at Warwick Business School and the Honorary Chair of Marketing and Organizational Research at Aston Business School. His research interests include sales management, social psychology, research methodology, and ethics. He is Editor in Chief of the European Journal of Marketing, the Section Editor for Sales Research Methods for the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, and he serves on the review panel or editorial board of several other journals. Nick is an Honorary Fellow of the APS where he directs research activities. Contact: