What Is Really Important Cannot Be Measured

The McKinsey Maxim goes, “What you can measure you can manage.” This is the clarion call of almost every MBA class.

So what?

Companies have been measuring since the year dot and this is a really meaningless statement because it doesn’t tell us what we should be measuring. Measuring for the sake of measurement is absolutely senseless.

More significantly, most accounting measures are lag measures, looking at things after the event when it is too late to change things. You wouldn’t time the cooking of a steak using a smoke alarm.

I would argue here that most of the time measuring is futile. Facts and figures neither provide the context nor reveal the truth. After all, if everything can be explained by numbers then how are we to approach art or music or poetry or love?

While statistics can pronounce a fact, they cannot explain it. Fact: numbers give the illusion of presenting more truth and precision than they are ever capable of.