In context

In it’s most popular form, Goodhart’s law states that when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

You do not have a healthy company because your revenue increases year after year. Revenue is just one measure of the health of a company, and it should be put in context.

You do not have a great place to work because your engagement score says so. Engagement score is just one measure of how your employees feel, and it should be put in context.

You do not have a terrific team because they meet their targets quarter after quarter. Numbers are just one measure of how well your team is doing, and they should be put in context.

You do not have a successful campaign because you are getting clicks. Clicks are just one measure of the success of a campaign, and they should be put in context.

The point is, measures are easy to game, and the more you put them at the center of every conversation, the more people will be inclined to game them.

It takes time and effort to take the whole picture into consideration. It takes awareness, it takes courage, it takes honesty. It is the only way you can truly assess how you are doing and make adjustments, so that you don’t wake up one day in a place where you had never wanted to go.

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