Monday, 14 March 2011

Measuring a “pound of flesh”

TEU’s Nigel Haworth is probably right to pejoratively call University of Auckland VC, Stuart McCutcheon a Managerialist.

In this latest stoush with the Tertiary Education union McCutcheon claims the rational high ground (NZ Herald). But to Haworth and many others he’s behaving like an industrial Shylock demanding his pound of flesh; his stance smacking of conventional managerial thinking and arrogance: underpinned by a particular set of unquestioned assumptions about how to measure and get better performance.

Of course in his mind McCutcheon is simply being rational; more rational than fellow academic Haworth, and denies wanting a “pound of flesh”. But to Harworth and the significant proportion of university employed academics in the union it clearly feels like that.

The thing is, there are far more productive measures of performance and satisfaction than those that demand or seem like they demand “pounds of flesh”.

Steve Denning commented in a recent communication:

“As I look back on my many years as a manager, I can see that one of the things that kept management grinding along on its death march was the measurement system. So long as the managers used a measurement system that kept tracking "things", it meant that "people" and "teams and "storytelling" inevitably got the short end of stick. 
So managers often talked a good game about people and teams, but at the end of the day, what really mattered was whether you made your numbers.”

Traditional management will keep grinding onwards unless and until we change the things we measure and crucially, the way that we measure them. 

We must pay attention to the people elements, not just the "things" or "outputs" that an organization produces. 

Steve’s doing a 5 part series in his Forbes blog on measuring what really matters. Part 4 on measuring time has links to the previous 3 parts. Part 5 is in the pipeline.


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