Your neologism for the day...


A devotion to creating and implementing metrics for a system or process while loosing sight of the real goal.


  • Evaluating software developers on how many bugs they fix.
  • Evaluating newsgroup interaction quality based on the percentage of posts answered in the first day.

Comments (4)

  1. Matt Davis says:

    And one of those words that falls under the great tradition of ambiguous English pronunciation: is it "metrik-ism" or "metris-ism"? I'd assume the former, but you never know…

  2. Aaron says:


    I deal with this all the time where I work… (a certain online retailer).

    I've heard a different phrase to describe the same thing:  "dysfunctional metrics".

    e.g. real story:  customer service reps, at one point in history, had their bonus directly tied to how long they kept customers on the phone.  10 minutes was established as some arbirtrary goal.  "Let's keep those calls under 10 minutes!"

    Turns out reps started hanging up on customers, in mid-sentence, when the 10 minute mark approached.

  3. agammuto says:

    Eric, you make a good point and I agree in principle, but people who hate being measured will eagerly embrace your position for the wrong reasons. The problem isn't about measurement. You should never blindly do anything if you have no idea it's working. There are two kinds of scoundrels in the world. Those who hate process and metrics and those who delight in overcomplicating them. One of my favorite quotes:

    ‎"I often say when you can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge of it is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind." – Lord Kelvin

  4. ericgu says:


    Sure, people can embrace my position for the wrong reasons. But I think that's orthogonal to the issue that I'm talking about.

    I like the Lord Kelvin quote WRT science, but it doesn't work well with people. The poor performers are going to do poorly no matter what you do, what I worry about is things that annoy the good performers.


    I perfer "metricism" because it sounds like "mysticism".

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