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Great post, Derek.

In the quest for metrics-at-all-costs, I'm sure we've all seen crazy metrics that make you wonder, "What were they thinking?" This is such a target-rich topic that it is hard to know where to weigh in, but I'll point out two things.

First, is the application of metrics to things which while they can be measured, shouldn't be measured. I know of a major federal department that includes Equal Employment Opportunity performance measures for rank-and-file employees. How do you measure EEO for a line employee? Literally, by the number of monthly heritage celebration events they attend. Not only is attending an event not connected to the underlying goal, it is not related to the employee's job or the organization's mission.

Second, I continue to be amazed at the nearly slavish adherence to the notion of a SMART metric - even when applied to cerebral knowledge work. SMART was originally developed for industrial age workers who were doing intrinsically measurable activities. To apply it - without thinking - to activities that are not inherently measurable is folly. But I see it all the time.

Thanks for the post. If you could send a few examples of metrics that focus on behaviors, people, and the unknowable, I'd like to see some.

Thanks for the comment, Joe. Your EEO story is a perfect example of metrics gone wrong. I’m happy to share with you some examples of metrics on behaviors, people and the unknowable. Indeed, I believe you have a system in place at BAH to help with just this. I or a member of my team will reach out through email.

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