Wanting what we measure

Isn’t it wonderful that we can measure the things that really matter in life and work?!

Really straightforward, isn’t it?

Not quite so, explains Russell Ackoff.

Ackoff’s F/law

Managers who don’t know how to measure what they want settle for wanting what they can measure.

For example, those who want a high quality of work life but don’t know how to measure it, often settle for wanting a high standard of living because they can measure it. The tragedy is that they come to believe that quality of life and standard of living are the same thing. The fact is that further increases to an already high standard of living often reduces quality of life.

Unfortunately and similarly, the ( unmeasurable) quality of products or services is taken to be proportional to their ( measurable) price. The price of a product or service, however, is usually proportional to the cost of producing it, not its quality: and this cost tends to be proportional to the relative incompetence of the organization that produces it.

Like economists, managers place no value on work they do not pay for because they can’t measure it. Work that has no quantifiable output includes some of the most important work that is done, for example, raising children and maintaining a home.

On the other hand, economists place a high value on work that destroys vvalue, because the cost of such work can be measured. Hence the paradox : a prolonged war is a very good way of raising gross national product but also of reducing quality of life.

– Russell Ackoff

In the present age of Big Data, this is the Big Daddy of all insights.

Every individual and every organization will be on the path of  ‘ effectiveness’, should they make use of it.

Courage. Discipline. Focus. Needed in abundance.




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