Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tom Ricks and the Right Metrics

I like Tom Ricks' blog, the Best Defense, even though I'm a natural-born civilian whose military career is 42+ years in the past.  He's included some discussion on various metrics useful in war (no, body count which was used in Vietnam is not useful), including stuff from Mr. Kilcullen which seems perceptive.

But this post focuses on how metrics should be used.  I think some of the observations would work for metrics used to measure bureaucracies.  I believe James Q Wilson observed that government bureaucracies often occur because their outputs aren't measurable; the idea being that if the output is measurable it could be sold in a market.  That's one reason why the various proposals for paying bureaucrats for performance are difficult.  It's also why it can be hard to motivate a bureaucrat. Job satisfaction comes from feeling you're accomplishing something, that you can see the results.

No comments: