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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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You are both wrong.

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Be Careful What You Measu ...

Alan should have said Successful managers....

You should have got out more when you were in your formative years.

The real world is nowhere near as nice and tidy as the fiction you've superimposed on it.

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