If you can’t measure it….

Posted by  Mark Schenk —September 18, 2006
Filed in Anecdotes, Leadership Posts

I recently heard a presentation that mentioned the truism ‘if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it’. It reminded me of how uncomfortable I have always been with this statement and the way it gets touted like a mantra in some organisations. If we view the functions of management as ‘plan, organise, lead, control, direct’, then both ‘measuring and managing’ appear to be more appropriate in an ordered world where cause and effect are knowable. For complex situations, where cause and effect cannot be predicted with acccuracy, the concepts of measure and manage aren’t sufficient to be successful. Measure and manage also don’t make any allowance for emergence and tend to overlook any unintended consequences. Fortunately I think many more people recite this truism than really believe it.

I prefer to view the function of management as ‘creating the conditions that enable people to be successful’. I also much prefer the concept expressed by Albert Einstein: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”.

Mark Schenk About  Mark Schenk

Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on:


  1. The flip side of this argumant is that some people resist measurement not because they believe it is measuring the wrong thing but because they believe it is measuring the right thing and they don’t want their performance to be measured.

  2. Thanks for the write up this is really some great stuff here! Anecdote: If you can’t measure it…. was a wonderful read.

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