Measure and Analyze
On two occasions I have been asked, “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
—Charles Babbage (1791-1871), mathematician and inventor of the first automatic calculator, published 1864
Almost everybody who considers a knowledge flow management initiative very quickly arrives at the topic of measuring. The thought process is usually straightforward. A typical statement I have heard is “You only get what you measure.” Those that manage an initiative often believe they can motivate people to participate by creating measures, assigning some targets and just ensuring that the targets are met. But measuring is a more complicated topic than you might think at first; it seems to be one of the topics that people have not found really good solutions for.
There are a number of issues that I have encountered with measuring:
• It is difficult to find meaningful measures for judging knowledge flow management initiatives.
• It can be easy to drive some behavior but very often it is not necessarily the right behavior.
• Trying to measure exactly is difficult, as a lot of the things involved with knowledge are fuzzy and not easy to grasp with hard, fully quantifiable measures.
• Measures can easily be deceiving. They might satisfy the need of having “a measure,” but if you dig deeper, you will find they do not measure ...