Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ignorance is bliss?

It has been said that ignorance is bliss. If it is, then only temporarily because no one can hide from reality forever. It has a way of enforcing its presence on us, and harshly. The longer it is left unacknowledged and unaddressed, the harsher it becomes. You always have to pay the piper in the end, so you might as well make your payments as you go.

Correct and honest metrics make a business work. If you have incorrect metrics, you are far more likely to make incorrect decisions. Incorrect metrics make you blind to the true status of your business and your processes.

Who would willfuly define and implement incorrect metrics? They are the nerves of an organization, and allow you to feel and react.

The government likes flying blind. They purposefuly obfuscate the truth. They do this in part to minimize panic and overreaction, but the primary motive is, I suspect, to keep their jobs. They blind themselves in an attempt to blind us and then expect to convince us they know what they're doing.

Here's an example. When the unemployment numbers were revised in 2009, it was reported that "the economy lost 150,000 jobs in December, far more than the 85,000 initially reported." (New York Times) The revised numbers are always worse than the initially reported numbers. For all of 2009 the revised numbers showed an additional 1.36 million fewer jobs.

While this was happening, somehow the unemployment rate dropped. The Government uses two different metrics, one for the unemployment rate, and another for job losses. The measure of unemployment has its own flaws. If you are no longer getting unemployment benefits or you are no longer seeking a job you aren't counted as unemployed. You are counted if you work 15 hours a week.

Honesty now comes at a price. Organizations such as make a living providing the numbers we used to get for free. If you are interested in the actual job numbers I would suggest you look there.

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