[Fred Nickols (971130.1220 ET)]
Ken Kitzke (971129.1100 ET)
Fred Nickols (971128.1615 ET) wrote:>
It simply is not true, as so many bone-headed pontificating fools
pronounce it so, that "You get what you measure." That is pure
I see your BS and raise you two diarrheas!
Measuring is very helpful for knowing how, as an individual or a group, you
Agreed; provided you are measuring something in which you are interested and
want to know about. Measuring the wrong things, measuring to drive others'
behavior, and measuring just for the sake of measuring are among some of the
most destructive activities found in organizations.
Just seeing the measure getting better or worse or staying the
same can become one's controlled variable that illicits behavior change to
restore the desired perception.
Hmm. I assume you meant "elicits" and that makes me ask how you can get
away with using such a bonfide behaviorist term as that and get away with
it? It sounds an awful lot like you're saying that the results of
measurement act as a stimulus to action. Is that what you meant?
It is consistent with PCT and has been
extraordinarily successful at clients in maintaining and improving the
performance of people and companies.
By "it" I assume you meant measuring or using measures in support of
obtaining and maintaining performance levels. If so, I agree that
instituting measures where none before existed frequently generates a lot of
activity. I'm not convinced that the activity is always productive or that
it produces the results sought by those who instituted the measures.
We measure results. Some people will try to fudge results. Some people
lie. It is usually pretty easy to catch such manipulators of the truth. I
encourage my clients to treat that as a big time disturbance and send any
such employees to their competitors.
Ah, I see; play the game by my rules or else. That sounds remarkably like
the game the rest of the world plays. What's different about that?
Measures help people understand what matters most.
Matters most to whom?
Today, due to
technology, foreign competition and other factors, product prices may fall
at 10% per year. Workers who think they deserve a raise because they made
5% more products than last year need an education about which measure is
most important to paying their wages: sales dollars or units.
Actually, I think most workers think they deserve a 5% raise because they
see their bosses walking off with millions and they don't think 5% is too
much for them to ask.
I don't proclaim "You get what you measure." I do proclaim I have seen
performance improve quickly from nothing more than measuring it and
displaying it to those who are responsible. Over and over again. If this
is beyond your realm of experience or understanding, that is unfortunate.
Nope; it's not beyond my experience. Many, MANY years ago, while still in
the Navy, I was moonlighting as the night shift supervisor in a telephone
sales office for Time, Inc. (actually, a subsidiary called Life Circulation
Corporation). I persuaded the office manager to let me post individual
sales results. (He had resisted because he didn't want to stimulate harmful
competition.) Sure enough; sales results more than doubled. A couple of
sales reps left because they couldn't stand the pressure. They had been
marginal performers anyway so no one missed them.
I think it is PCT and explains the behavior flawlessly.
Maybe, maybe not. There are certainly other explanations which, depending
on your theoretical orientation, you would treat as more or less plausible.
That, I believe, was the gist of Tim Carey's very lucid post.
I also claim that if a result is important, you should measure it and
display it for everyone to ponder. I claim that it is difficult to manage
things you can't or won't measure. Does this make me a bone-head?
Nope, provided you're not shooting yourself in the foot. Example: The
president of a large foodstuffs manufacturer once set out to break all sales
records. He set the targets, provided the incentives, and ignored all the
protests and counter-arguments. The sales force went out and broke all
sales records; they, after all, knew what was important. The plants
incurred all kinds of overtime trying to keep up with the orders and
couldn't. Customers defected to other manufacturers who could fill their
orders. The company did break all sales records. It also posted the worst
loss in its history. The president was later fired. Did he measure? You
betcha! Did what he was measuring serve to "communicate what matters most"?
You betcha! Did he measure the wrong thing? I think so; so do lots of others.
When you measure something, and tie others' fortunes to those
measurements, you can bet your bottom dollar that what you get is what they
want you to get or what they're willing to let you have.
I stand by that comment (see the president's story above).
Now, you have illuminated the real culprit behind your emotion and
corresponding unprofessional language.
Emotion? Unprofessional language? Me? But let's digress anyway...
I'm not a professional in the sense that I practice a profession such as law
or medicine or engineering. Nor am I a professional in the sense that I am
a member of some occupation that has a code of ethics to which I adhere. If
I am a professional at all, it is in the sense of being highly skilled and
able to command a premium in pay for applying those skills to the problems
of my clients. All that said, if anyone on this list took offense at my use
of "bullshit," please know that no offense was intended.
And, here, we might agree. It's
the incentive, the carrot, that makes people look like jackasses. It's the
incentive that makes fools out of people. It's the incentive that doesn't
work and raises conflict. Here we agree, I think, based on PCT? It is not
the measure that is the problem, it's the incentive.
Actually, I don't think we do agree. Incentives work all right, it's just
that all too often they don't work as intended. In the story above, it was
the measure that was the problem, not the incentive. The incentive simply
put teeth in a bone-headed measure. The sales reps were laughing all the
way to the bank. They pocketed millions in commissions on confirmed orders.
Failure to deliver wasn't their problem.
<As a general practice, I nod agreeably when clients talk about the
importance of structuring incentives to support and encourage the behaviors
desired, but I don't "do" incentive systems as part of my consulting
practice. I think they're a waste of time.
Are you controlling for being paid or for being honest?
For being paid and for repeat business and for being honest and, most of
all, for choosing my shots. If I confronted every fool notion I heard
uttered, that's all I'd find myself doing and I'd be completely without clients.
When my clients
use the word incentive, or the idea of reinforcement, I tell them
emphatically that it won't work reliably and will only cause conflict among
people, including encouraging bold faced lies about results. After
explaining from PCT why they do not work reliably, and thanking Bill Powers
for insight, if they go ahead, I often separate rather than be part of
their predictable mediocre results or total failure.
Well, that fits with the other things you've said.
More important, to impose contingent relationships between
rewards/incentives/carrots and behavior/actions/results is to try to
exercise external control. If I know anything about external control
systems, I know they have to be simple in nature and few in number (and I
owe that insight to Peter Drucker, by the way).
It sounds like you are bragging about Peter Drucker? I would be
complaining. Is this the same Mr. Drucker, or is it Dr. Drucker the
pontificator extraordinaire, who is the father of external heirarchial
control known as Management By Objectives (MBO)? Objectives are usually
targets for achievement, including often serving as incentives for
I admire Drucker but I can't brag about him; he isn't mine. In any event,
please explain for me how you reconcile your admiration for measurement with
your dislike for Drucker and MBO?
Westinghouse, my employer for two decades, liked Drucker a lot. Who would
guess that Druker would outlive Westinghouse? The teacher is healthier
than his advice.
That remark presupposes Westinghouse took his advice, which it didn't and
couldn't because organizations don't do anything, people do. I daresay
Peter Drucker outlived Westinghouse because those who were running
Westinghouse into the ground weren't subject to sufficient checks and
balances on their exercise of authority -- but, what the heck, that's a
whole different subject.
Some day, when all the textbooks of the S-R behaviorists are thrown by Rick
Marken on a pile and publically burned, I'll be there chucking my Harper &
Roe *The practice of management* with Peter F. (might be for Fool? 8-))
Drucker's likeness on the cover into the fire with them.
Book burning? Rick's a man of strong opinions but I doubt he's into book
burning. Actually, it's Harper & Row, and the "F" stands for Ferdinand.
I would spare the man's life, even if he didn't apologize for his
behaviorist management philosophy. But, without any remorse, I would
probably make him sit in cow manure for an unforgettable period until he
would at least give an audience to Bill Powers.
I'm sure Drucker would be heartened by your magnanimity. I don't think Bill
wants an audience with Drucker but I'll let Bill speak for himself.
Actually, if Drucker is still alive, he would be about 88 years old. If
alive, I might have mercy on him and just demand he talk to Bill so he can
willingly and purposively burn his own books on management and feel like a
Last I heard he is still alive and he just turned 88 early in November.
From one bone-headed pontificating fool to the rest of you. Peace.
Peace to you, too.