Metrics are all around us and create a sense of transparency. But sometimes they are used to obfuscate, says Jabulani Sikhakhane.
Metrics, like love, are all around us. Just about anything – from what businesses, governments and citizens do – has a measure for it. And most of these measures are made public. American historian Jerry Muller has referred to the ubiquity of, and over-reliance on, the measurement of everything as the tyranny of metrics.
Metrics create a sense of transparency and achievement. Yet, as Muller argues in his book, The Tyranny of Metrics, measurement has deep-seated problems. These include the gaming of metrics and the distortion of information that informs a metric.