Over on The Knowledge Project Podcast, episode #158, the author, Aaron Dignan, talks about as a company becomes more and more bureaucratic (typically the result of its own success), people start losing touch with reality (which is very complex and chaotic) and start instead increasingly relying on metrics (which are far simpler and orderly in comparison).
Of course, it’s not just large organizations who do this. Individuals are just as susceptible. We confuse Instagram followers with actual paying customers. We confuse retweets with people actually caring about us.
There’s an old line in business, “What is measured is valued.” That’s not the same as “What is measured is valuable.”
The other thing about metrics is, as convenient as they are, they are logical beasties. And as the brilliant, Rory Sutherland, likes to say, the trouble with using logic to solve a problem, is that you invariably end up with the same answer as everybody else.
Don’t get us wrong. We like metrics as much as the next person, but they’re just a tool. They are not the thing itself.