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You get what you pay for but not what you expect. 

I once had a client that ran cable tv systems in the mountain west.   They were really driven by numbers.  Bonuses depended on keeping to budget. 

One year a certain general manager ran out of money for a capital project in New Mexico in September.  To make his bonus, he stopped construction until the new fiscal year started. 

Another time, a consulting firm gave bonuses for billed hours, and not for client satisfaction.   Which meant lots of billed hours and not enough happy customers. 

I’ve learned recently that these are examples of Goodhart’s Law (aka Campell’s Law). 

Goodhart’s “law” states: When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure. 

Or in other words, people game systems.  If you tell them this is the important number, they will make sure that number improves.  Even if it doesn’t make other things better.  If you’re interested in the problem, Jerry Z. Muller’s “The Tyranny of Metrics” is a good place to start. 

I like data. I think it’s useful.  But I also know that naïve metrics don’t work. 

Because you’ll get what you pay for.  But not always what you expect. 

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