IndexesBecomePolicyTargets (ThoughtStorms)

Context : ThinkingAntiPatterns

Very important correlate of WhatYouCanMeasureYouCanManage.

When you start trying to understand a system, you start trying to measure it. And you create indexes ie. summaries of the state of the system.

Obviously, these indexes don't include all the information. Nevertheless, as you start trying to control the system, you measure your success by the changes in the indexes. Your indexes become policy targets.

Adjustments which improve the indexes will be selected over ones that don't.

The danger is, that sometimes the indexes can be improved by techniques that don't actually improve the underlying system. They may actually be covering up something going wrong underneath.

Basically follows from TheMapIsNotTheTerritory

Bad examples of indexes becoming policy targets :



CriticalRationalism : all knowledge consists of conjectured models. Nothing you can do about that.


Exactly, we have to live with this situation, and that's why we should be especially attentive to criticisms of this kind : "my indexes show things are OK", "well let's look beneath your indexes" should be a standard move in many arguments, and equally acceptable to both sides.

Why does it happen?

See also :