The Fatal Obsession with Metrics and Productivity

I believe that the current worldwide obsession with metrics and productivity is one of the major reasons behind the ongoing collapse of the status quo. The reasons behind my belief stem from two intertwining aspects of the metrics and productivity charade.

1. Any hierarchical system that uses metrics and productivity to promote people is doomed to being gamed by marginally competent but clever scamsters.

2. Since the system promotes scamsters, it keeps on concentrating them in the upper levels of the hierarchy till that organization can no longer serve its original function.

You can see the negative effect of our obsession with metrics and productivity in areas as diverse as academia, law enforcement to manufacturing. In every single case, it follow a rather predictable trajectory starting with an initial apparent increase in productivity followed by a slow decline and hollowing out of that institution. This trajectory is a result of the fact that metrics and productivity end up rewarding people without any consideration for the effects of doing so- aka perverse incentives. As I had mentioned in an older post– this is a circular problem since perverse incentives create the need for more metrics and other measurements of productivity.

It is as if we are promoting and rewarding cancerous cells to grow faster while simultaneously starving and inhibiting healthy cells.

But why would most people go along with this scenario? In my opinion, it comes down to the popularity of short-term magical thinking whereby most people believe that they might become successful petty tyrants themselves. However magical thinking though necessary is not sufficient and has to be normalized with a lot of bullshit about metrics and productivity.

Metrics and productivity should then be seen attempts to normalize cancerous behavior.

I will explain that idea further in a couple of upcoming posts.

Comments?

  1. November 30, 2011 at 8:52 am

    hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Diablo, i think you are critiquing the whole Sales profession-which would also include a critique of your boi toy Roooshie V as he uses sales terms to describe his “method.”

  2. Cockmuncher
    November 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Hey, you’ve got it wrong Sir! What we need are more entrepreneurs, risk takers, people ready to get their hands dirty with new ideas, people who can open the eyes of consumers to new things that they want and need! We need honest professionals ready to inundate and manipulate the minds of key stakeholders to make sure that great productions reach the people, so that consumption catapults productivity! We need more click-ads. YEAH!

    It’s as simple as buying an apple for $1, polishing it and selling it for $2!

  3. November 30, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    C-Munch….

    I think the idea you describe will only work short term….

    Buying an apple seed, growing apples, then selling them-more longterm….

    I think the idea diablo is trying to articulate is that the managerial types are going for short term success by getting high sales and low taxes-they get growth short term, but later stagnation…

    more should be put into research and development, more into the so called “infrastructure.” Even successful companies like Apple aren’t really innovating… They are offering good design but nothing really new. iPod-you had walkmans before that. iPhone-you had cellphones and laptops before that. Neither are “game-changers.”

    In regards to autos, lets say for the sake of argument, the average vehicle is getting 22mpg. Alright, lets say that in 6 years, the average is 44mpg-still not revolutionary. Just squeezing a bit more out of current technology. Alright, lets say electric cars that you need to charge everyday, still not a game changer. Now lets say you’ve got a car that has an energy cell that lasts 10-20 years, no filling up at the pump. Maybe some preventative maintenance every 2 or 3 years. Now that would be a game changer, especially if it was affordable to the average American-even more so people around the world.

  4. Cockmuncher
    November 30, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Hey Stoner, I was only taking the piss, spoofing those go-get-’em motivational types that always trumpet change, progress etc.

    WRT game-changers, I agree, things like iPod are just improvements on existing technology. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that very little genuine innovation has taken place since the early 20th century – improvements no doubt, but nothing overwhelmingly novel. The trouble is, people have this almost mystical fascination with things tangible, and technology really tickles that fetish – so insignificant things get blown up beyond all proportion.

    If the economy and consumer outlook depend on these tangible goods as a sign of progress, I’m going to deviate from the standard predictions that we see among singularity forecasters and such. I say that technology is dealing with the most limited vista of human experience, i.e. physical objects, and there is actually much less room for development in this sphere of activity than in all the others (e.g. intellectual). This is why we generally see improvements, with true innovation being limited to brief and rare periods of upheaval.

    Hence, instead of grand new inventions, over the next few decades we’ll see some improvements where existing technology is developed to its limit, established functions will continue with moderate improvements, the outcomes of such development will be lukewarm because the world will be the same but faster, and a saturation point will be reached, opening up rewards for those that can think of stupid uses for high-tech things, thus appealing to the masses and their money.

    Example: high-speed internet to stream gangbangs, advanced polymer technology to make bionic women that can lick my arse-rim.

  1. November 30, 2011 at 9:04 pm
  2. December 1, 2011 at 6:13 pm
  3. January 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm

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