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« Play For the Name On the Front, Not the Name On the Back. | Main | It's Been a Long, a Long Time Coming. »

November 08, 2012


Mark Dennen

I remember reading a book on Einstein and how he was told about a researcher who worked on difficult problems with little likelihood of success. Einstein’s comment: He had little respect for a man who took a board, found the thinnest part and drilled holes.

KS Japan

I think you wanted to say; Wrong indicator or question can lead us to wrong direction.
I hope the supervisor can ask next question, such as, what is the successful reservation % per call.


I remember that commercial, probably because I thought it was both amusing and made a good point.

micro CEO

Never saw that commercial but I can sort of imagine from the description. I am reminded of Will Smith's character in the film Pursuit of Happiness" (wonderful film, I thought).

Let's face it, indicators are difficult to do properly, and should not be a substitute for actual leadership.(Just as standardized, multiple choice tests should not be a replacement for personalized student evaluations).
We might consider that such an indicator of employee performance might have been first established with the best intentions... a way to give people points for effort, even if the results (number of reservations confirmed) do not hit a certain quota or goal. Then somewhere along the way, the secondary indicator ends up replacing the primary one. Perhaps it is understandable for employers to do this, in the context of a culture of labor unions and litigation. Of course I do not mean to say that it is correct. We probably need both leading (effort) and lagging (results) indicators, which can serve to achieve results and also to build employee confidence.

Deming's 14 points lay out his philosophy that one must distinguish between supervision (by simple, numerical targets) and leadership. He also argues against management by objective (MBOs), which is an interesting contrast against Drucker, who proposed them (and probably influenced Andy Grove). Personally I think they are good to have as goals for knowledge workers, but not for production line workers. Maybe that is the solution to the Deming-Drucker paradox...

Another point about this scenario (as I can only imagine it): One gets the feeling that the worker might not have the self-confidence to speak out on her own defense... reflecting (reinforcing) both the stereotypical under-confidence bias of female employees, and also the stereotypical arrogance and insensitivity of the boss. So if the conversation about "how many calls" would subsequently result in a reprimand or reduced bonus or something, it could be considered as the fault of both employee and boss for poor communication. What I mean to say, is that we the viewers would tend to sympathize with the employee, but there is also the aspect of the employee failing to reveal her story... like a self-defeating act of victimization in the face of dislike or mistrust of the manager.

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