An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Metrics bloody metrics

If I were to tell you that in order to measure the effectiveness of the national health system I intend to monitor closely the health of the fittest 5% of the population year on year an publish the findings in the form of a league table would you think me perverse?  Or would you perhaps think me misguided? Mad? So how do we measure the effectiveness of the education system by monitoring the progress of the top performing 5%? 

The UK has become, within living memory, obsessed with measuring things. It started with commerce and gradually infected public services and the utilities. Metrics, targets and, league tables have become part of the new and pervasive language of management. We are expected to take note of these statistics and rankings as some holy grail of efficiency and effectiveness - for everything! Sadly we seldom question what it is that is being measured and rarer still what that metric tells us. Single point metrics like waiting lists cannot tell us about the overall performance of our health system any more than your blood pressure can tell me about your general well-being. No person in their right mind would think to judge a complex system by a single metric.

No more can the continuing performance of the brightest few inducted into an education system designed for the brightest tell us anything useful about the manner in which that system provides for the needs of the rest? Precious little is what those figures can tell us of value. And where one might reasonably ask are the resources to come from to monitor and record the performance of these few? From the rest of the system I figure and likely to the detriment of the mass. And what new metric will we use to measure that degradation? Why none at all.

Bloody nonsense. Bean counting nonsense. Management science? Don't make me laugh.


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