Individual Competence vs. Organizational Efficiency LO28877

From: chris macrae (
Date: 07/23/02

Replying to LO28866 --

I dont know Kohn's work and it sounds as if I better take a look. Maybe he
goes too far but equally let's been absolutely clear about the big picture
of the transparency/responsibility debate - which goes far beyond the
corrupt few to the awesome truth that almost all managers and leaders in
large organisations have become culturally blinded by numbers

One day darn soon all organisations ought to grow up in the following
sense of the word. Every time a manager reaches for a number he or she
also reaches for a relationship/system map. So business unit returned
outstanding great numbers 4 compound quarters in a row - should they be
celebrated/rewarded and the whole company ordered to learn from them or
have they been straining the system either as corruptly as a business unit
in Texas which brought down a Big 5 numbers firm or just by using up the
trust or emotions of all sorts of stakeholders around them?

The trouble is there are a lot of people who use numbers who are totally
unqualified as mathematicians. A mathematician knows the limitation of any
logical/science system he or she uses. Arithmetic makes one heroic
assumption: that everything separates in an inanimate way so that 1+2=3.
And now you know this assumption, you of good conscience can never blindly
obey an organisational number again.

Especially when you add in something that changed over the last 20 years
as networks and globalisation and all that stuff moved organisations from
paper knowledge fiefdoms to digital flows.

The killer blow for the 1.0 numbers firm is how intangibles drive value:
85% of monetary productivity, 100% or monetary risk, and all trust values
are built through system connections. The 1.0 company that continues
believing it can corporately govern through numbers measures alone is a
blind disaster area- totally incompetent of leading any future; any
pensioner investor should take their money out of 1.0 companies who only
measure by the numbers; and this should be the time when LO and system
people argue why the share of management voice given to numbers and all
the professions that only preach numbers must be downsized by half so that
systems and human relationship transparency gets equal weight of mapping
in every business decision.

Dont misquote me numbers are fine ( I am a mathematician) but never again
on their own without seeing the human relationship decision which so many
so-called professionals have become expert at burying (making what should
be simple/transparent very complex/opaque)

chris macrae Transparency Standards Community
co-author The Map that Moved the World (Wiley 2003)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Terje A. Tonsberg" <>
> My comment:
> Although Deming's points against performance appraisal systems are well
> taken, Alfie Kohn goes way too far and belongs nowhere near Deming in
> terms of intellectual contributions to the debate. As of late it seems he
> doesn't want to measure anything at all, thinks that all work and learning
> will get done by intrinsic motivation and that even saying something like
> "good job!" is a bad thing. These ideas are very appealing to certain
> teachers though (who pay for his books and presentations,) because
> removing such tests would make it practically impossible to tell if they
> were doing anything at all, and fit well with their romantic ideals.


"chris macrae" <>

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