Thursday, April 7, 2011

Measurements that mislead

After reading this article by Jonah Lehrer, I wonder if perhaps I have been placing too much faith in metrics and measurements.

In most jobs there seems to be no clear way to measure the truly high performers versus those who are lucky to be at the right place. When I worked a corporate job, I would often wish that all employees could be assigned objective performance ratings (something akin to the Elo chess ratings instead of the subjective ratings that their supervisors give.)

I know of several people (myself included) who can raise their performance when they know that they are being observed and evaluated. Even so, Lehrer's article in WSJ is enlightening in the one main point it makes: That it is important to distinguish between "maximum performance" under staged conditions and long term "typical performance."

Maximum performance has its place, but when it comes to ourselves we should be focusing on our typical performance.

Here's the link to the article.

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