The sun is in Uranus

astrologerThis dude is an ASTROLOGER



This dude is an ASTRONOMER.

They LOOK very similar don’t they?

Both staring up at stars, they both use telescopes, they both keep accurate records of  where astronomical bodies are in the night-sky.

But one is a total bull-snit merchant and the other an esteemed scientist.

It can be hard to tell just by looking which one is the one that builds knowledge through observation and testing of theories, and which one writes a column in the Daily Mail advising gullible muppets that Friday would be a bad day to book a holiday due to the moon rising in your an Uranus.
But there IS a difference. The difference is IN THE THINKING.

Although both involve stars and telescopes, if you could peel off their skulls and look inside you would see very different models of what on earth they were doing.

 To the outside observer they’re both doing the same thing-peering through telescopes at stars. So if I come along and point at one of them and shout “SCAM ARTIST!” it’ll be very hard for anybody to understand why I’m only pointing at the astrologer and not the astonomer. That’d require me to go into laborious explanations of the stars, and how bull-snit mongering is not the same as observation, data collection and theory testing. I mean that does sound pretty boring.

This is the same as the difference between performance management and “using data to understand what is going on in your work“. The second one doesn’t even have a name. They’re both totally different, with totally different thinking behind them. 

But to the outside observer, they’re the same thing. Both using data and numbers, both possibly using the word “performance”, “measure”, “indicator” and the like. They’re the same thing! Except not.

Performance management is as legitimate as astrology is, a busted theory. Something quite frankly a bit silly, and entirely untrue. But also something that normal people occasionally pay attention to, for some reason.

And cos they both look a bit the same, it’s often thought that you could turn one into the other. That performance management could be turned into “using data to understand what is going on in your work”.

That would be great! Just turn the one thing into the other! Cos they’re basically the same! Numbers and that!

Except they’re not. Peel back the skulls expose the thinking. That’s where the true difference lies. In performance management the thinking is command and control thinking. In “using data to understand what is going on in your work” it isn’t.

Trying to improve performance measures in a command and control organisation is a popular effort. I’ve been trying to do it since my job interview for my place 12 years ago. This guy has built a VG blog all about it. I refer people to it all the time.

Trying to improve performance measures is not wrong.  But it’s not right either.

So why’s it wrong TP? That’s in the next exciting blog post! Snore….


This entry was posted in all wrong, command and control, measures, setting a numerical target is like..., statistics, systems thinking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The sun is in Uranus

  1. Whilst not wishing to defend astrologers there are scientists who are bullshit merchants and get it wrong. In other words the methodology they use is sometimes faulty.

    Suggest you read books such as Knowledge and Social Imagery by David Bloor.

    Performance Management is silly but I can’t remember why. (Hey I’m old!) I think it’s something to do with the gaming the results. I’m a bit rusty being away from Systems Thinking for some time.

    It’s more fruitful to look at how people deliberately screw up the organisation to protect their own turf. In order words socio technological issues.


  2. Pingback: Why you SHOULDN’T try to improve performance measures! | thinkpurpose

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