Thursday, March 7, 2013

KPIs and Quantum Mechanics - the lurking "KPI Darkness" of reality

I heard a joke the other day about the Management Consultant who is caught red-handed cheating on his wife with a beautiful, younger model. He claims that he wasn't cheating, he was just "Benchmarking" as the basis for a LEAN optimization of his marriage.

The interesting thing with benchmarking and the inevitable associated KPI's is that they tend to create a oversimplified but very convincing picture of the, or a, "reality".

That's a scary perspective. As an Engineer I have to belive there is only one Reality (although with many dimensions), but that our perceptions of this reality is different from person to person. Our perceptions on the other hand we can and do influence, for instance by the different ways of measuring resulting in KPI's.

In Quantum Mechanics it has been proven mathematically that you can only measure one thing at a time and that the object you're measuring immidiately takes on the form you're measuring when you're measuring. In other words, you get what you're looking for! The most commonly used example is Light. When you're measuring light as a wave you get the results as if light is a wave (which in reality it is). But when you're measuring light as a particle, it also behaves exactly as expected for a particle (which in reality it is). But how can light be both a wave and a particle?

Well, one school of thought states that Reality consists of all possible outcomes at any given time (who said it was simple to comprehend?). But as soon as you decide on one, by measuring, reality effectively "collapses" to the one you're measuring and all the other dimensions dissappear. So light cannot be wave and particle at the same time when you're measuring, but until then it is both wave and particle - clear as mud, right? But please remember that Quantum (QT) Mechanics is one of the most succesful theories ever made there is therefore a very strong likelihood that it actually describes the real world.

If you're still with me here :-) my point is, that you get what you measure and the remaining parts of Reality disappears from your horizon. So any set of KPI's will always create an oversimplified and hence severely limited view of Reality. KPI's must therefore be used with great care and must never substitute critical thinking (refer to my previous post on the subject). In the business world you cannot allow yourself to accept that the "rest of reality" just disappears as in QT. Chances are that it is still lurking somewhere in the "KPI darkness" and jump up when you least of all expect it. Obviously at a very inconvenient time :-)

I promise my next post will be very "hands-on" again. I plan on taking a look at competences and capabilities, for your company that is. For yourself, the Product Manager, is for a later post. Stay tuned and thanks for bearing with me. As always, I'm looking forward to your comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment