What get’s measured get’s done: True or False?

I’ve heard it often: What get’s measured get’s done. It’s especially popular among proponents of Balanced Scorecards and similar management tools.

I think it’s wrong. Click more and I’ll tell you why I think so.

Well first of all, what does the statement mean? Most often it’s used as a reason to measure performance in your organization, so it has several meanings:
1: If you want to make sure that something is done, you need to measure it.
2: You can adequately measure results
3: You can know the state of your organization through measurements

I disagree. It’s not that measurements in an organization are superfluous – it’s just never the whole truth.

Here’s why I disagree with the statement:
If you only accept the results that you can measure (and most people who tout the statement do), then the statement becomes a tautology and thus is meaningless. It then says in effect that “What get’s measured is what we have measured”. So (and this is pretty funny) this statement only makes sense, if you accept the existence of non-measured results.

And this is the whole point: In all organizations, much of the work done and much of the value created is unmeasured and maybe even unmeasureable. Let’s say a person has a great day, and spreads a good mood in his department. Can you measure that? No! Is it important? Certainly! It can have a significant impact on that departments productivity.

Let’s say a project comes in on time and on budget. You can (and probably will measure that, as well you should). Maybe that project cost one of the key workers her marriage. Will that be measured? No! Is it important? Well, when she resigns in three months, it will be!

So what get’s measured is not what get’s done. There’s so much else being done that has huge impact on your organization, which will never be measured. We must learn to live with this!

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