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Be Careful What You Measure

By CraigSenior ·
In Alan Norton's article "Efficient Metrics: Be Careful What you Measure," he wrote, "Good managers will do whatever it takes to make their numbers look good, especially if incentives are tied to those numbers."

May I enthusiastically disagree with that statement and modify one word: "Bad managers will do whatever it takes to make their numbers look good, especially if incentives are tied to those numbers."

Good managers
- recognize the interdependencies between their department and the organization
- question the validity of short-sighted, narrow measures
- propose useful metrics and correlations e.g. calculating the ratio of Service Desk incidents per capita is more useful than capturing just the number of Service Desk incidents
- weigh the cost of measuring against the potential value
- seek to convert voluntary measurements (effort to measure) into involuntary measurements (measurements derived automatically from activities)
- are leary of knee-jerk reactions to metrics in a stable system; over-reacting can negatively affect the system
- perform root cause analysis and seek to remove root causes
- accept responsibility for the system of people, processes, and technology; people are not to blame for unacceptable performance, the system is at cause
- cooperate with other managers (not compete against them) to improve the performance of all departments
- encourages curiosity within the team about causes, "Where in the system could we have prevented that problem/defect?"
- improves the documentation (in any form, not to be confused with documents) of the system continuously
- continuously simplifies the system of work e.g. every piece of information we capture must have a downstream reader, whether a human or a machine. If not, don't capture it.

please comment and add more...

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