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ARTICLE | The Tyranny of Metrics: A Review by Mark Cabaj

Evaluating Community Impact, Tools, Evaluation

This article features Mark Cabaj reviewing expert Jerry Z Muller's book "The Tyranny of Metrics" which concerns the practice of reducing things like individual and organizational performance to standardized metrics. 

While Muller is not staunchly anti-metric, and sees the benefit of pulling quantitative data in support of performance, he takes on three main beliefs

  • Outcomes and performance can be reduced to standardized measurements even in complex challenges
  • Making metrics public or transparent increases the chances that institutions will be accountable for their actions and results.
  • The best way to motivate people is by attaching financial and reputational reward and penalties to their ability to meet quantifiable performance targets.

Mark's article is a great introduction to Muller's thinking, and provides a practical basis for ensuring that our metrics are a helpful tool, rather than a hindrance, towards our goal of making the world a better place.

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