We measure everything. The length and weight of a newborn. The speed of an eleven year old’s fast ball. IQ and EQ. And complex algorithms measure everything from personality type to areas where one is likely to succeed. Or fail.
“Campbell’s Law tells us that as soon as a number is used as the measurement for something, someone will get confused and start gaming the number, believing that they’re also improving the underlying metric, when, in actuallity, they’re merely making the number go up.”
And measures give way to defining labels.
In business, quarterly projections and earnings reports become the ultimate measure of growth. Faster is better, and shortcuts are invented. Bigger is stronger. And, for a season at least, we might be fooled into believing that today’s numbers represent long-term stability and security.
But what if the measure is lacking?
This is the underlying theme of The Missing Metric — my talk from TEDx San Antonio. I share it here (with apology for the personal reference and tone) as cautionary fodder when we’re tempted to wholly rely on metrics and benchmarks for ultimate direction.