Productivity, usability, and blind spots

Subject: Productivity, usability, and blind spots
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: techwr-l digest recipients <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000 11:07:05 -0700

SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com wrote:

>We instinctively rebel against the notion of being measured

One of the basic facts about productivity metrics are that they
are extremely artificial.

Anybody who has studied the history of the social sciences know
that the application of statistics to human behaviour is very
inexact. The social sciences have tried very hard for a patina of
empiricism like that of the physical sciences, but has never had
much success in convincing anyone else that they were truly
scientific.

Applied to business, statistical analysis becomes even more
questionable. By the time a concept or method filters down to
business from academia, it's often a decade or more old, and very
watered-down. The awareness of the shortcomings in methodology
that the best social scientists have generally disappears in
business. As a result, out of date, overly simplistic ideas are
applied overly rigidly. Communication models that were current in
the 1950s are still being taught as part of business management.
Psychological theories that were fringe at best are used in human
resources. Sociological analysis that was inadequate to begin
with ends in productivity metrics. Worst, all these ideas are
generally adapted by people who don't have the background to
understand the limitations of these tools.

As I said earlier in this thread, metrics do have a use. But it's
a limited one. And no one should be deceived by the illusion of
exactness that they offer.

--
Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com | Tel: 604.421.7189

"And you've seen it before:
The names of good women and men,
Decreed by the sword and the pen
To be outlaws all over again."
-Karen Mathieson (Capercailie)




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