Re: Productivity Metrics and Deming

Subject: Re: Productivity Metrics and Deming
From: SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2000 20:55:30 EDT

I went on a business trip, leaving behind an active thread...

Tim Altom <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com> seems to have replied independently to
Geoff Hart's posting without reference to the points I made. He also cited
Dr. Deming on productivity. I've read several of Deming's books, including
_Out of the Crisis_. Deming's objection to measuring productivity stemmed
from his finding that most variation in a system of production results from
the system itself, not the efforts of individual workers. That's what I said:
high writer productivity comes from a system geared to getting product
releases out the door. Tim also pointed out that you can boost productivity
by writing fluff, but I had previously replied that if you have someone
actually reading the documents, that doesn't work. (In this case, one metric,
productivity, can be circumvented, but one metric and one checklist
item--editing--closes the door.)

Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com> suspected someone dismissed the
telegraph. (Perhaps he was thinking of the competitive analysis performed
some years later by the successful American Telegraph Company dismissing the
newfangled telephone. I believe they concluded, "No man would conduct
business in such a manner." Hah!) He then went on to say it's meaningless to
count mistakes (among other things). You know, I got free wine and dessert
one night at the hotel restaurant. How? By ordering tenderloin medium rare
and getting it raw. I was thinking about it afterwards; do you think the
restaurant cares how many orders it messes up? (Nah--and McDonald's doesn't
count cups, either 8^) I wonder if it's meaningful to count Web site hits.
Meaningless? Perhaps, but the advertising contracts depend on that metric.
Finally, he suggested, with a fine sense of irony, the metric "cash" instead.
Replying in kind, I ask: Andrew, how do you know how much to bid on a project?

To address the original point of Curtis Ward (remember him? 8^): in my
opinion your group's manager should refuse to divulge individual productivity
metrics, for all of the good reasons originally posted by Geoff Hart
<Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA> and also Steve McDonald <Stephen -dot- MacDonald -at- Aspect -dot- com>.

-- Steve

Steven Jong, Documentation Team Manager
("Some people have a way with words; some people... not have way"--Steve
Lightbridge, Inc., 67 South Bedford St., Burlington, MA 01803 USA
mailto:jong -at- lightbridge -dot- com -dot- nospam 781.359.4902 [voice]
Home Sweet Homepage:

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