One reader comments:

Demming used to also say that you can’t manage what you can’t measure … So if we are engineering processes, where are the measurements that tell us if we have done a good job?

This is an excellent point. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Does this mean we rush to hire more consultants to collect more data and bill us millions in more contract over-runs? According to Deming, the biggest mistake that management can make is to rely solely on easily available visible figures:

“…he that would run his company on visible figures alone will in time have neither company nor figures” (“Out of Crisis,” pg. 121)

Of course there is no excuse for being blind to visible figures. After taking office, Mayor Sanders shut down the Performance Benchmarking program that used to measure service levels over time and compare them to other cities. So we dug our heads in the dirt and started kicking, thinking that we are getting somewhere by the press coverage we got.

The invisible indicators are those related to the quality of services and civic pride. In fact, the important metric that is often ignored is the health of the public structure itself. Remember that citizens are not just clients but also share-holders (owners) of the public structure.


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