Measures – Why Not and Why?

In many work places, measurements are used to gauge progress against some predetermined goal. Often, those goals are aligned with a strategic plan which is understood and supported by the “owners”, or typically a board. Because of the business structures and outside expectations, these measures are typically aligned to short term expectations that might be measured on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.

Many times, the measures are based on things easy to calculate rather than some intrinsically beneficial parameter that has been selected through a careful consultative process and shared vision. For most people, their lives and expectations are measured in other ways, often in a purely subconscious fashion.

As a consequence, when the measures of the outside world impact on the individual, it becomes a clash of views rather than a constructive communication tool for shared benefit.

I believe we all have measures that we apply to our environment, life and situation. However, the measures applied in our school and work environments typically take on a persona of command and control and we consequently reject them. We don’t know what we don’t know, until some abrupt change in information takes place. The Johari Window encapsulates the idea of different perceptions but not specifically the change.

What if we each learnt at an early age that there are ways in which we can apply measures, be they subjective or objective, hard and soft, long and short term and they can be used to help us know ourselves? What if we maintained and developed those measures through our lives? What if the measures  became a map to help others understand us, to know what is true for us and to help us to engage effectively in employment and to make life choices?

It is important, however, that we dont mistake the map for the territory.

Perhaps it is not measures that are the problem. Perhaps the problem is that by avoiding our own measures we give up our own power to understand a key part of who we are. Through that giving up, we hand over control to other parties (schools, employers, governments) to apply their measures to our lives.

What do you think?


  1. I see truth in the questions you pose Michael. Certainly from my own experience, by not defining and applying my own measures, I leave the way open for others to define and apply the measures that will contain my individual expression and ultimate achievement.

    So through much angst, I am beginning to see and experience the benefits of identifying and claiming authorship of my own life, even if at times it feels a little ‘staged’ and uncomfortable.

    What’s that saying …’If you don’t know where you’re going you’ll end up somewhere you don’t want to be.’.

    If I don’t decide, someone will decide for me.

    I’m currently re-reading Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and it highlights this same dilemma. It’s not until we see ourselves as having the personal power to make choices and changes that we can step out from under the oppressive control of ruling others.

    I choose to choose the way forward

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