On the day you die, what will your friends and family remember about who you were?
At work, they may try to measure you with numbers, but to your spouse, children and friends those measurements are meaningless. They know you from how you have helped them and hurt them. How you loved them or rejected them. What is measured about you in numbers has little bearing on the experience the people who matter most have.
There is value in careful measurement. Carefully chosen data can help us see. We are easily distracted, and good information can remind us to tend first to the important things we’d overlook in our daily chaos. I like the ideas in the film Moneyball, where wise use of information helped people see more clearly what the true value of people’s talent was.
But the trap is what is easiest to measure is nearly always the least important thing. You can measure kisses per day, but that won’t tell you how much you’ve loved someone. It won’t tell you what they’d prefer you do instead, or how they felt about you when you ignored them the rest of the day. Bad, easy data is always the most abundant kind.
And even good data can be used in dumb ways. Any measurement can be gamed. The person with the highest score may be the one who has the least integrity.
It’s a mistake to allow data to be a god. Data is dead. Numbers don’t know why they were created. Data, if granted the power, can lord over people mercilessly without any awareness that it’s out of date, behind the times, or having the opposite effect its creators intended. It is wise to be informed by data, but only a fool is data’s slave. You are more than what is measured about you.