October 31, 2012 by
The risk of wrong metrics
Today I read this tweet from @JerryWeinberg
When managers don’t understand the work, they tend to reward the appearance of work (long hours, piles of paper, …)
This reminds me of the risk of setting (wrong) goals.
- if you are (VERY) lucky, you can just achieve them. No matter how they mach with the overall goals of the company (assuming the goal of the company is clear). No matter how you do it (the more you push on incentives on these goals, the more people will ‘act’ to achieve them .. no matter the consequences);
- when you set the goal, you alter the ‘system’ in an unpredictable way as people start behaving differently: what if the goals of different people start colliding? And this is even more visible when there are incentives related to these goals.
OK you might say that all these ‘unexpected consequences’ are because ‘they’ are not able to set goals properly: well, as my experience says that setting right goals is almost impossible, I think that MBOs, SLAs, KPIs tend to ruin organizations more than helping them … and give manager great excuses.
[new] What’s even worst with SLAs is that managers tend not to read contracts properly, and who read them (lawyers?) are not the ones who understand the content.
So this is a system that in theory might work but in reality it doesn’t … because we are humans and not predictable machines controlled in closed-loop.