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too much emphesis on measurement

August 6, 2013

One aspect of my job involves finding ways to quantify or measure quality.  This is often rather challenging.  For example how do you quantify if someone is involved in their community, measure if a person has friends, or determine that someone does the right number of chores around their house.  Over and over, I’m being asked to create metrics on something.

While I fully support the idea that the things you decide to measure or count, are more likely to happen than the things you don’t; turning everything into a number isn’t all it is cracked up to be.  Seth Godin, a blogger I have shared about in the past, wrote the other day about the difference between numbers and colours (click here for his blog post: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/08/colors-or-numbers.html ).  He says the alternate to measuring things and looking at numbers, is to think about the impact you want to have.  What changes to do want to see in people, what emotional response, what difference?

We live in a culture that is focuses on numbers, on turning everything into a statistic, on creating a measurable change; but knowing that someone is active in 3 community activities, doesn’t tell us if they enjoy any of them or if engaging in one activity they love is better than 5 they just like.  Numbers don’t describe the impact or personal value.

I used to have sign by my desk that said “you don’t make sheep fatter by weighing them”.  While measuring or counting something might increase the odds of a behaviour happening, without some targeted inputs and efforts, you won’t see the outcome you desire.  Don’t get lost in the numbers when what you want to have is an immeasurable impact.

Sky Report in morning: consensus here is pretty overcast

Yarn Strands: light blue and grey

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