Systems Thinking and ROI LO13700

Edwin Brenegar III (
Thu, 22 May 1997 06:43:47 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO13649 --


Thanks for your explanation for how one can use the "numbers", rather than
something more vague. In sales situations, I think a quantitative
approach is easier to see. The fact that the student's thought only on
selling "features" says that they are thinking that the bottom line is a
different type of productivity. There sense of productivity had to do
with what happens at the machine. Your approach had to do with a larger
perspective, how that machine will increase office productivity. Two
different perspectives which could have sold the copier. So what is the
correct measurement? Copier sales, features, or worker productivity? Or
all of them.

My point is that while the numbers help to clarify decisions, the decision
is really about something other than the numbers. It is about the values
we place on the use of time, which we can describe in terms of hourly,
quarterly productivity. The numbers have to be interpreted.

Let me provide another example. In the public schools in our state (NC)
student test scores are the measurement used to evaluate administrators,
teachers and whole systems. Just test scores. There is a great debate
about this currently because it is felt by many parents that the test
scores do not get at many of the educational issues of concern to them.
The test scores say nothing about the breadth or integration of the
curriculum, or the climate or culture of the school. And if I was a
teacher, and merit pay was based on test scores, I'd teach to the test.
If you listen to students, teaching to the test misses alot of educational
opportunity. It doesn't challenge the student to be any better than his
or her grade level. This is a numbers oriented system. I believe in the
tests, because they do measure student achievement. But I don't believe
they are a sufficient evaluation measure of the quality of schools.

I think that the "numbers" are important, but that how those numbers are
conceived and interpreted are equally important. And having the numbers
without an interpretive scheme misses the value the number bring to
evaluation and assessment.

Ed Brenegar


Edwin Brenegar III <>

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