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Myth Busting: Measurement and Management

"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it" - Deming

I've heard and used that quote above many times. My guess is you have too. Here is the problem - the quote is misused.

The actual quote is "It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth.”


In other words, Deming meant the exact opposite of what his quote has become. There is no doubt Deming was a proponent of data and measurement. Statistics and numbers were key to many things he did.


He also realized that data is incapable of determining everything. Managers deal with people, which means dealing with personalities and emotions. Customers are the same way. Those things are not easily measurable - if at all.


Where managers add value - now and in the future - is in being able to use the data, but still remember that it is incomplete. Use the ability to consider the non-measurable information along with the data.


This is how managers add value. This is how great managers get results and build great teams.

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