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Column: Measure for Measure: By Their Measures Shall Ye Know Them
  • Quality

Column: Measure for Measure: By Their Measures Shall Ye Know Them

Measurement results can cause undesired behaviors

Quality Progress
May 2001
Volume 34 Issue 5
pp. 72-73
Stein, Philip


(Pages 72, 74)
[Abstract from article]

When people are measured, they tend to operate in a way that optimizes the measurement result, even though to do so may be counterproductive or even silly. When this happens, the measurement system is distorted and doesn't drive the desired results. In the well-known situation called flinching, there is pressure to ship the product and, therefore, to accept the product at the last inspection step. The inspection consists of a measurement, followed by a decision based on the result. Any manual inspection has a built in incentive, and in this case the incentive is to liberally interpret the measurement result in favor of product release.

Unless you consider the people who use your measurement system and the implicit incentives built into the ways of collecting data, you will have a good chance of driving undesired, distorted behaviors.

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