Measurement dysfunction

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

From Joel on Software: a good pice on Measurement (via Lee at Headshift)

“Thank you for calling Amazon.com may I help you?” Then — Click! You’re cut off. That’s annoying. You just waited 10 minutes to get through to a human and you mysteriously got disconnected right away.

Or is it mysterious? According to Mike Daisey Amazon rated their customer service representatives based on the number of calls taken per hour. The best way to get your performance rating up was to hang up on customers thus increasing the number of calls you can take every hour.

An aberration, you say?

When Jeff Weitzen took over Gateway, he instituted a new policy to save money on customer service calls. “Reps who spent more than 13 minutes talking to a customer didn’t get their monthly bonuses,” writes Katrina Brooker (Business 2.0, April 2001). “As a result, workers began doing just about anything to get customers off the phone: pretending the line wasn’t working, hanging up, or often–at great expense–sending them new parts or computers. Not surprisingly, Gateway’s customer satisfaction rates, once the best in the industry, fell below average.”

It seems human nature to want to measure stuff so what’s the solution to gaming? I suggest that each time one of these measures is set, a group of people discuss the potential downsides and put in a place a qualitative way of assessing its impact. Like an open-space discussion for those being measured to talk about its impact on them. As well as reading the seductive numbers, the manager has to show up for the meeting…

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