Saturday, June 26, 2004

Measurement, or -- be careful what you wish for

A friend of mine (let's call him Howard) once worked for a very respected IT company in the early days.  His job was to service the giant printers that they used to have. Howard regularly and scrupulously maintained the printers for his clients -- in fact so good was the servicing that not one of his clients suffered a printer breakdown while he was looking after them.  This reliability was in fact a key value proposition for the IT company.  But what was actually rewarded?
A Client of Howard's colleague had a catastrophic printer breakdown the day before the payroll was to be printed.  (It is hard to think of a single application that has more importance to the morale of staff than printing the payroll.  It's also hard to think of a more visible failure.)
The colleague went to enormous efforts to try and determine the problem, to get replacement parts air couriered, to meet a specially hired plane at the airport, to get the parts installed into the printer, and to get it working to complete the payroll run. The colleague worked through the night. For his outstanding efforts in client service the colleague was given a special client service award.
However .............. During the entire time that Howard was servicing clients printers, and not one of them breakdown, Howard received no formal recognition.  And no special reward.  Magnificent as the overnight effort was by Howard's colleague, if the printer had been serviced correctly in the first place, it would not have broken down.  The stress, the disruption was all avoidable.....
What was rewarded?  Be careful what you measure, and be careful what you reward.

4 comments:

TanNg said...

Wow, very good article. Thx

MountainMan said...

Nicely said :)

Kolohi said...

You are certainly on the dot with that snapshot of tech life.During class when the nights discussion leads to topics like documenting, baselining, tracking the many logical/physical network topologies documenting changes etc... we like to fondly mention little tidbits like "Job Security" & Grokking your sys amin??

lol

tekkie in training

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