The tyranny of metrics - Deepstash
The tyranny of metrics

The tyranny of metrics

One criticism of metrics is the obsession with numbers leaves no space for qualitative assessment.

Numbers present a deceptive quality of objectivity. We tend to think of data as representing objective truth, but it does not always deserve the authority we give it.

  • Tracking metrics can take away from the actual work.
  • When pressured to reach specific numbers, people will game the system.
  • Tying metrics to rewards and punishments destroys intrinsic motivation.

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MORE IDEAS FROM Metrics: Useful or Evil? | Scott H Young

Consider both sides of metrics
  • We can apply metrics to different domains. Muller's critiques focus mainly on not-for-profits, where Doerr directs his attention to big business (such as tech).
  • Metrics inspire effort but also encourage corruption. Therefore, each metric should be considered in light of trade-offs.
  • Using metrics and goals can increase the effectiveness of a healthy company, but the same strategy can damage people in an unhealthy organisation.

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A case for metrics

Organisations often waste time by pursuing conflicting goals. OKRs helps to focus united efforts as it is easy to evaluate progress when goals are tied to measurable results.

However, it can be a problem when goal-setting becomes an obsession. Common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Do not tie metrics to compensation.
  • If your metrics measure the wrong thing, be open to change it.
  • When quality and quantity matter, add more metrics.

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John Doerr's Measure What Matters is about the importance of setting clear goals and using metrics to back them up. Doerr argues that metrics-driven OKRs (objectives and key results) have a considerable impact.

In contrast, Jerry Muller's The Tyranny of Metrics shows that measuring everything destroys our schools, hospitals, police and politics. When metrics is the most important, everyone will try to "game" the numbers. E.g., schools teach to the test rather than to educate.

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RELATED IDEA

What are productivity metrics?

Productivity metrics are a means of tracking and measuring how quickly and efficiently employees are completing assignments.

These metrics are also helpful insights to track, manage, and improve employee performance.

As you would expect, there are various types of employee productivity metrics, including quantitative and qualitative measurements.

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Value In Numbers
  • Doing something people find valuable should be able to push your metric scores up, as a by-product. This is the real-world proof of quality in this age.
  • Similarly, if we do something, and the metrics go down, it’s a clear indication the action was wrong, no matter how right it seemed.
  • Numbers speak and provide a clear and tangible ‘score’ to rally a team around.

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Retention measures how long your customer stays actively engaged with your product or business.

The two key retention metrics are:

  • Core retention: The total number of active users after a specific time period.
  • Proxy retention: These are action-based metrics. They are the core actions users need to take to support your model. It is not pure retention but an action that should lead to retention at some time.

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