JIS News

Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Science and Technology, Dr. Arnoldo Ventura, has said that leaders must embrace science and technology and become more supportive and knowledgeable of recent trends in research and development and as well as technological advances.
“Leaders must become cognisant .of these developments and become adept at embracing and evaluating the options provided,” Dr. Ventura said, as he spoke on the ‘Essentials of Knowledge and Evidence-Based Leadership” at the CARICOM Science and Technology conference in Trinidad and Tobago on May 11.
He argued that, “the command and control style of leadership, coupled with comfort and fixity in relative ignorance, are prescriptions for backwardness and failure.”
According to Dr. Ventura, leadership and management increasingly, “will have to deal with risk, uncertainty and doubt, not only because of information overload and the untested effects of new technologies generated by the rate of science and technological progress, but also because the more you know, the more we realise how much we do not know.” He said that although risk could be estimated in terms of odds, uncertainty was incalculable. “This,” he noted, however, “should not be allowed to paralyse decisions and actions.”
“More and more leaders will have to handle complex issues and follow or become familiar with research that challenges existing dogma and myths, such as natural products are better than so-called unnatural ones, economic behaviour is rational, markets can be made stable and excessive growth can be sustained in a finite world,” he told the conference.
He noted that in such types of evolving situations, using scenario-building approaches and accepting ambiguity, would have to be accepted as the norm. “Leaders must think probabilistically instead of deterministically,” Dr. Ventura remarked.
“This is where the best knowledge must be brought to bear on all issues, and where a systematic scientific and evidence-based approach to problem solving becomes the most prudent way to proceed,” he said, adding that, “guess work and common sense and actions based on the loudest voices or the slickest public reactions, cannot suffice in solving intricate problems.”
Dr. Ventura argued that political leaders and managers were among the worst when it came to using evidence-based information to make decisions.
“Because of the economic and political stakes involved,” he said, “there are a number of so-called advisers, experts and consultants peddling a surfeit of uncontested information. Here also, foreign consultations are highly valued, based on the belief that solutions effective in one place are suitable for another.”
“In this regard,” he added, “it must be stated that it is hard to distinguish good advice from bad. Also, consultants are often rewarded for just getting work, only sometimes for good work, and hardly for evaluating whether they have actually made a positive difference.”
Dr. Ventura said leaders, who acted from logical evidence, did better and those who did not. However, he stressed that in order for this to happen, a proper mindset was a necessity and the willingness to practise evidence-based management.