Metrics and Management: New Book, New Implications

The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office, by Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan (Twelve, 2013), was featured today on first page of the New York Times Business Day section. The article starts out by comparing British Petroleum’s record as a government enterprise, and then later as private corporation. (Pop quiz: what are the two biggest disasters BP created, and when did they occur?).  This alone is intriguing and suggests the book is a good read, but the following quotes really caught my attention:

“The more we reward those things we can measure, and not reward the things we care about but don’t measure, the more we will distort behavior.”  -Burton Weisbrod, Northwestern University.

“If what gets measured is what gets managed, then what gets managed is what gets done.,”  –-Fisman and Sullivan

–With the implication that what is not managed not only will not get done, but may go wrong in unforeseen ways (Deep Water, anyone?).

These insights apply to bibliometrics as well as to management, particularly when it comes to measuring the quality and impact of library services that are not (sufficiently) measured.