Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Hat tip to Ian Glendinning for using this term which seems to indicate an uncontrollable urge to measure the unmeasurable, prove the intangible and generally reduce everything to some kind of number soup.

Ian goes on to quote Einstein (no messing about here):

What counts can't be counted

And from someone that could count better than most...

Anyway, finally I have a name for a phenomenon that's been irritating me for a while, often parading itself as tired old adages such as You can't manage what you can't measure

But Scientisitic Neurosis manifests in other pernicious ways:

  • An insatiable need to 'evidence' the bleeding obvious: "Studies show that lack of sleep is bad for your health" (possibly driven by post-grad grant applications?)
  • A refusal by organisations to countenance any intervention that can't demonstrate a measurable Return on Investment. This particular neurosis generates pseudo-statistics around intangibles such as engagement, well-being, even happiness.
  • Gaming: engaging in perverse behaviour in order to meet targets. E.g. keeping casualties in ambulances to reduce the time they spend in Accident & Emergency departments.

Even Deming (an Electrical Engineer and eminent Management Consultant) stated that you would never be able to measure the benefit of training a team of people in a particular skill:

 You may spend $20,000 to train six people in a skill. That benefit will come in the future. We'll never be able to measure that benefit. Never.

Any views to the contrary gratefully and respectfully received...

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