What you can measure is not worth much these days

Measurement still ranks high in the business world, but most of the time it does so for the wrong reasons. The purpose of the measurement and control systems in a company has been to focus attention, to focus the management and to focus the employees on doing the right thing. 

The problem we face today in our networked and globalized world is that whatever can be measured, can and will be copied. Whatever you do that has an input, a formula and a measurable output will soon be offered by someone else faster, better and cheaper. Nothing wrong with playing that game, but you need to be aware that it is a commodity market and no matter what you do, it will be priced as a commodity or even given for free.

The same applies to work that people do. If work is based on a set of instructions and it can be measured, that's a commodity market. It should and will be automized and done for a tiny fraction of the price. If you measure people on how well, fast and cheap they can do a defined task, you will also end up with an organization that can do what everyone else can. 

What if instead of using measurement to focus attention on a certain area, you use it to focus attention out of it? Strategy is about choosing what to do and what not to do. What if you use measurement to figure out the areas of your business that are predictable and then intentionally get out of there? Or find someone yourself that can do it cheaper?

Instead of assessing people on how well they do a task, you assess them on handling problems that don't have a correct answer. A learning organization is not one that can quickly absorb instructions, but one that can deal with unsolved problems, one that can fail and learn out of it as fast and as much as possible. 

As long as the "why" of measurement is aligned with the game you're in, no problem. But if you want to play the premium game and you still measure the organization on how well, fast and cheap they follow instructions, you might want to think again.

Graphical illustration of Volume and Price effects

Zombie language at work