Good Hart’s law

It is in the beginning of the year that I am involved in setting of our company, department and regional objectives and thinking about KPI’s or measures.

Measurements are very useful, they are a wonderful tool that help you get results. Measurements define progress, they can be found in your self-improvement aims, as much as in business goals. Measurements are effective because they force think about what you are actually trying to do.

However, when setting measures we must be careful that the measure doesn’t become goal itself. This is sometimes called ‘Good Hart’s Law’. Put simply when a measure becomes a goal, it ceases to become a measure.

The classic example of this is when British colonialists tried to control snakes in India. The British government offered rewards to people who caught and killed snakes. Therefore making India safer for the British. However, people started to breed more snakes in order to get the rewards. This is also referred to as the Cobra Effect —when an attempted solution to a problem makes the problem worse, as a type of unintended consequence.

The above example is actually called Adverserial Good Hart’s law there is also Regressive Good Hart’s law, Extremal Good Hart’s law and Casual Good Hart’s law. You could learn more here

Published by NCS

reader of great literature, teller of tales, photographer of mostly awful snaps but on occasion I am half decent.

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