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There's this almost cult-like obsession with measurement among the hacker crowd where everything must be measured and optimized. Unfortunately, people don't work this way. Telling people that they haven't measured up to some arbitrary standard is a significant demotivator. If you are measuring your workers on some chart, they'll begin either gaming the chart or comparing against each other, neither of which will motivate them to do better work - it will motivate them to optimize whatever you're measuring. I saw this at my last job and it was blindingly, painfully obvious how bad of an idea it was but management kept it up.

Take a support staff for example. What do you measure? How many calls they make? That incentivizes making lots of short calls. How many notes about clients calls they made? That incentivizes leaving lots of minimum length notes. Am I a worse support staff member if I leave longer notes and make longer calls? How do you accurately measure the "results" of a support staff? By customer retention? Good luck correlating individual client retention to specific support staff when customers talk to many different employees during a sales or support process.

Once you get past people who create objective value for the company, measurements are difficult to impossible. Measuring against an arbitrary standard is worse than doing nothing because it demotivates employees who aren't as high up on your arbitrary standard. Not everyone at a company has a direct impact on revenue - janitor, accountant, sysadmin, chef, etc.




>>There's this almost cult-like obsession with measurement among the hacker crowd where everything must be measured and optimized.

Yes. One of the pioneers of business, H. James Harrington, said, "“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.


Unfortunately, that argument is flawed for several reasons.

Firstly, in practice, measurement is not free. It incurs overheads of various kinds, and there is no guarantee that any benefits ultimately obtained will outweigh those overheads.

Secondly, the series of negatives doesn't logically imply the initial positives.

Thirdly, it is not self-evident that all of those negative implications are actually true, particularly the first.

I suspect many of us have at some point heard the word "This needs to be managed!", but they always seem to come from middle managers whose own contributions are of debatable value and who never seem to have a good answer when the return question is "Why?".


This is spot on. It's exactly what happened at HubSpot with their support team.


People will try to game whatever metric you use to evaluate them by. This does not mean metrics are bad or useless. It just means you need mechanisms to detect and account for gaming attempts.


A lack of measurement is not any better either, why do a better job or go the extra mile for this customer if it's not going to impact you in any way?


Its a somewhat foreign concept called intrinsic motivation that involves synergistic goals and happy employees. :P




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