NewsTalk

Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Measuring your performance

April 24, 2009
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From the beginning of time, engineering and the hard sciences have been held to account by laws of nature because results of faulty reasoning are obvious. Heavy airplanes won’t leave the ground, patients given the wrong drug die.

In recent decades the computer has spread accountability to so many fields and occupations beyond those historically constrained by nature that one expert suspects virtually nothing will escape the power of measurement.

John Sullivan, an aeronautical engineer who directs the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Purdue University, has watched organizations dramatically improve consistency through ISO standards and ultimately force improvements from the people operating factories and other enterprises. Even some law firms become certified.

The forward march of accountability is engulfing education as the public increasingly demands better performance from schools. Sullivan suspects testing and its associated paperwork may be pulling teachers too far from the classroom; nevertheless, even the new U.S. education secretary, Arne Duncan, is calling for measurements of everything from student achievement to the quality of teachers.

“It seems to me the number of jobs without some pretty hard metrics about them will be pretty small,” Sullivan says.

How many unmeasured occupations come to your mind? Artists? Psychologists?

And how do you feel about this mega trend? Are any occupations harmed by hard numbers, and should any be completely off limits?

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