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I think that's not the point OP is trying to make. There's nothing wrong with tracking time for yourself, or clocking in and out of work. Time however is a really really bad measure of productivity. If somebody constantly stays late at work because they never finish stuff on time, in our current culture they often get promoted for being hard workers. While some might do the same job in 2h that they do in a month.

So what the super productive guy learns after a while is that they just need to "work overtime" and delay presenting results to get ahead. If this attitude starts pervading your team the productivity might start tanking too.




> Time however is a really really bad measure of productivity.

Situationally. With programming there are loads of different tasks. For some tasks I think time can be quite a good metric. Still, metrics matter and I think having lousy metrics is better than not having metrics at all. Of course you have to realize what purpose the metric has in certain situation.


> I think having lousy metrics is better than not having metrics at all.

I fundamentally disagree. Metrics don't live in their own world. They affect the world around them and incentivize certain actions. Bad metrics can produce bad incentives. There are certainly many cases where simply not knowing something is better than knowing something that's only partially right. However, that requires a level of humility and acceptance of one's limitations that can be hard to defend to others looking for straight answers to all questions.


Well, very situational question. My question here is mostly, what are the bad incentives caused when people time track their days for example in with 1 hour or 0,5 hour granularity with software development tasks? I have been doing that kind of tracking both professionally and in personal projects, and I don't see the harm caused.


Fair enough. I mean I guess I wouldn't go so far as to claim that time-tracking is an obviously bad metric. However, I would definitely claim it can be poorly utilized. This metric is just a tool. Employed effectively it can increase performance. Employed ineffectively it can increase...time.

But generally I think my main point stands. We need to be humble enough to sometimes accept lack of control (i.e. not using certain metrics/processes) rather than deluding ourselves by through certain metrics that really aren't very good.


The problem is not the tracking. It is your boss coming over after 3 days asking why this 1 day task is suddenly taking 3 times as long, and how much longer do you think it will take?

Never mind that the task spec changed 5 times in those 3 days.


This 100%. "What gets measured gets managed" is a 70 year old quote by Peter Drucker and it is no less true today. It reminds me of a great anecdote by Mark Graham Brown about "chicken efficiency", which is a great term to describe these situations. https://corporater.com/en/the-chicken-kpi-be-careful-of-what...


Isn't it the most basic rule of any information-based analysis that having wrong information or unreliable one is worse than not having any?

Because: 1) you know what you are lacking 2) you won't take action on wrong information.


If you're a doctor deciding whether to recommend a risky surgical procedure, you certainly don't want to jump the gun when reliable information hasn't yet come in. It surely will do in due course, if you're patient.

But if you're a manager giving out raises to your team, taking no action (i.e. giving no raises) might seem a worse choice than using the unreliable data - and there's no expectation reliable data will arrive if you wait.




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