No Bullshit Metrics


I’ve been asked to build fancy metrics gathering tools and even fancier reports over and over the past years. While metrics can be a great help, there are numerous things to take into consideration to minimize side effects! These considerations are even more important when you’re dealing with qualitative dimensions, especially in creative processes such as in the field of engineering.

In enterprise realms, pointy haired bosses often try to “solve” problems by measuring stuff. Got too many support tickets? Then make a great looking trend chart about them! Once you have the numbers, apply some random improvement goal (“cut those by 20% next month”) and there you go! Somebody just created an easy to cheat game: instead of analyzing the really issue (shipping untested product, incomplete user manual…), support engineers will probably just reject a few more tickets or use untracked channels for resolution. And there’s nobody to blame for it. It’s pretty much human nature that we like to be good at our work. Thus, many become very clever in “looking great at whatever game corporate just invented”.

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