Digging for Metrics

My grandfather was a coal miner.  At one point, the company paid the workers based on how far they progressed (dug) into a coal seam.  The idea was to provide them an incentive to be more productive.

No Metric Can Beat Us!

As would happen, one day the “official” measuring stick had a legitimate (or so it was claimed) accident and it was shortened by several inches.  The stick was deemed to still be completely usable by the workers and was not replaced. (They did not throw out much back then.  Cough.).  It was used by the foreman for quite a while and people were paid accordingly.  Then, as would also eventually happen, the foreman needed to measure something other than their progress in the coal seam and the “official stick” was found wanting.

Two lessons came out of this:

  • How long has it been since anyone took a long look at the”official stick”?
  • People are clever, and they will figure out a way to get around any metric.
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