I have always been a big fan of research. Talk about unconscious bias training and I’ll quote research on how they are useless or even counterproductive. Talk about recognition mechanisms and I’ll again point you to something behavioral science said. But at the end of the day, even I recognize that research can only tell you so much. This was brought to the fore even more drastically over the last two months as I began to (surprise, surprise) cook more often.
On innumerable occasions, I was frustrated by the lack of clear directions. Recipes would instruct me to stir for approximately ten minutes or until I begin to see the sauce thicken. They’d ask me to add salt per taste. These ambiguous statements led to many a disasters; when you say thicken, just how thick? How much salt is as per taste? Even recipes with the clearest instructions that mentioned exactly how many teaspoons of salt and how many minutes I should stir for turned out terrible. Take for example dough – no one ever tells you the perfect flour to water ratio or the time you need to knead it for. Almost every aspect of dough is trial and error or intuition. Over time, I learnt to trust my intuitions and tweak the recipes per experience. It also got me thinking about every other aspect in my life. Be it workouts, diet or work, there exists no perfect recipe.
This is especially true of interventions at work. Research can tell you everything you need to know in theory but in real life, at any point there are a dozen forces interacting in nature. It needs a fair bit of experimentation to understand what works. I will continue to encourage you to apply academic grade research processes where possible so that you know exactly which factors to tweak but at the end, as long as you take all the research that is available (ingredients), know the general implementation (recipe) and play around with it (intuition), you should land at a pretty good end product.
So go figure your own mix of ingredients and tweak until you find perfection. No one can really tell you exactly how.