Measurement Changes Our Relationship to Our Work.

Measurement of our work transforms the way we relate to our work. Not everything we do is measurable; but, once our performance is tracked, rewarded, or disciplined based on quantitative performance, we begin to focus on the work that is easily measured, neglecting other elements of our roles. In other words, we sacrifice quality for countability. Measurement alienates us from the intrinsic motivations that draw us to our work and instead focuses us on extrinsic behaviour, which contributes to reduced satisfaction.

Our expertise shifts away from our craft and toward managing or manipulating the metrics. This in turn encourages risk-averse behaviour: we’re less likely to innovate or engage in intrapreneurial activities on the job, as these are less likely to show up on our scoresheet.

More alarmingly, we'll avoid situations that might hurt our numbers, or modify our behaviour to suit the numbers rather than our actual responsibility. An example cited by Muller is a surgeon who avoids taking on riskier cases because his rating is linked to mortality rates. As Muller puts it, "to the extent that measurements are used to determining continuing employment and pay, they will be subject to gaming the statistics or outright fraud." Or, as Goodhart's Law puts it, once a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be useful as a measure.


Related

Citations

Muller, Jerry Z. The Tyranny of Metrics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018.


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