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Be Careful What You Measure

Final week, Wells Fargo fired a bunch of their distant staff.

It seems that these staff have been “simulating keyboard exercise” (with a program/gadget that mechanically typed keys or jiggled their mouse after they weren’t at their laptop).


As a result of that’s how these staff have been evaluated:

Not by what number of purchasers they introduced in, nor what number of relationships they fostered, however by what number of hours they have been lively on their computer systems.

In order that’s precisely what these staff gave them.

Bear in mind, this is similar financial institution that informed staff again in 2017: “Enroll as many consumers to further banking companies as potential.”

The end result?

Tens of millions of unknowing prospects had bank cards and financial savings accounts and brokerage accounts created illegally of their names, tons of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in fines, and destroyed goodwill for Wells Fargo.

Why did each of those comically unhealthy lapses in judgment occur?

Bloomberg’s Matt Levine mentioned it nicely:

Two primary rules of administration, and regulation, and life, are:

  1. You get what you measure.
  2. The factor that you simply measure will get gamed.

Actually that’s only one precept: You get what you measure, however solely precisely what you measure. There’s no assure that you simply’ll get the extra common good factor that you simply thought you have been roughly measuring.

If you need laborious staff and measure hours labored, you’ll get lots of staff browsing the web till midnight.

I stumbled throughout this story final week, and instantly thought how this actual incentive-and-unexpected-results performs out on a regular basis in our lives.

We obtain Duolingo to be taught to converse with a local speaker of their language. Months later, we’re checking in every day so we don’t get yelled at by the Owl, we’re determined to maintain our every day streak lively…and we will solely say “I discovered a blue ostrich on the library.”

We lie in mattress, waiving our arm above our head like a madman, as a result of our FitBit says we want 500 extra steps to hit 10,000 for the day. (Here’s the history of the 10k step rule by the way in which…)

I as soon as “meditated” each single day for six months in order that I might construct my meditation streak in Headspace. Generally I’d even open the app and simply let the meditation play so I received credit score for it, regardless that I wasn’t meditating…THE WHOLE REASON I HAD DOWNLOADED THE APP.

We inform ourselves that we need to “learn extra,” however then we observe what number of books we learn. This incentivizes us to learn books rapidly (with out retaining any of it), as a substitute of tackling greater challenges like Battle & Peace or rereading our favourite books to glean extra classes.

WHY can we need to learn extra? To be taught stuff or to be entertained! The number of books, or WHICH books, doesn’t matter:

Social media started as a strategy to join with buddies. As of late, social media is large enterprise and the solely advertising instrument for a lot of creators. As a result of these firms observe “time on app” and “consideration”…social media is now a hellscape of concern.

Probably the most attention-grabbing content material filters to the highest: outrage inducing, factually incorrect, terrible content material designed to enrage and concern monger. Even most of my favourite wellness creators today spend their time making response movies to probably the most vile wellness misinformation, as a result of that’s the one kind of content material that features any traction.

(No surprise so many individuals are avoiding the Dark Forest of the Internet!).

All of these items weave an interesting tapestry of how the human mind works, and simply how good our brains are at taking a metric and studying the fallacious lesson from that metric!

What are you measuring?

The vast majority of individuals go to NerdFitness.com to “shed extra pounds.”

That is the one metric that everyone is used to monitoring. Each advert talks about how one can shed extra pounds quick. They see the quantity on the dimensions and let that quantity decide how they really feel about themselves that day.

That is the fallacious metric to completely concentrate on:

We don’t actually need to “shed extra pounds.” What we would like is to lose fats whereas conserving the muscle we now have (or constructing muscle).

If our ONLY aim is weight reduction, extreme calorie restriction and countless cardio may lead to a decrease quantity on the dimensions. BUT! If we don’t change our relationship with meals, and eat sufficient of the proper macronutrients and micronutrients, we’ll find yourself feeling torpid, starved, and depressing…after which gorge ourselves as quickly as life will get in the way in which.

If we energy practice whereas consuming sufficient protein and in a caloric deficit, we’ll truly shed extra pounds slower than if we simply starved ourselves and did hours of cardio. BUT, we’ll be dropping fats whereas sustaining muscle.

The size ought to solely be ONE a part of how we evaluate our progress:

In any case, the quantity on the dimensions goes to fluctuate from day to day:

  • If we went out to dinner final night time.
  • if we ate an excessive amount of salt yesterday.
  • If we’re carrying further water weight.
  • If we’re on our interval.
  • any variety of causes.

So, as soon as we all know that what we select to trace is essential, how can we use this to our benefit?

What to Monitor, What NOT to Monitor

Bear in mind, that which will get measured will get improved, so let’s be good about what we’re monitoring.

We are able to ask, “What do I REALLY need to occur? Is that this the proper metric for that aim?”

  • Making an attempt to “eat higher”: Track your protein intake and variety of fruits/veggies eaten every day. If these are the primary two issues in your plate for every meal, your weight will begin to shift with out your concentrate on it.
  • Making an attempt to construct a “beach body”? Nice, let’s build some muscle. Monitor your exercises, and write down precisely what number of units and reps. Then, do ONE extra subsequent time. The aim? Progressive overload for the win! Get stronger,
  • Need to learn extra? Don’t observe “books learn,” which could lead to you choosing shorter books or pace studying, however as a substitute observe “time spent studying.” This will embrace audiobooks, rereading outdated books, no matter. Deal with your studying checklist like a river, not a to-do list!

Lastly, there are numerous issues we in all probability DON’T want to trace, or we needs to be cautious about when monitoring.

There’s a complete group of biohackers who’re prioritizing monitoring the tiniest of particulars throughout quite a lot of metrics, a lot of which don’t matter, or may lead to antagonistic outcomes.

Right here’s one thing we get requested about lots:

Until you’re a diabetic and have been suggested by a physician, you do not want to put on a steady glucose monitor. Momentary glucose spikes after consuming a meal are completely regular.

(This podcast from my pal Dr. Spencer Nadolsky does job explaining why you don’t want a glucose monitor until you’re diabetic).

Right here’s one thing I used to trace however deserted:

I used to trace my sleep religiously with an Oura ring and AppleWatch, however then I’d get anxious in the midst of the night time and fear that I used to be ruining my “sleep rating”…which negatively impacted the very exercise I used to be attempting to enhance by way of monitoring. As of late, I fear far much less about monitoring “good sleep” and simply do what I can to be in mattress for 8ish hours, asleep or not.

And on a much bigger, life philosophy query:

Be cautious of how social media is warping the scorecard you’re utilizing to trace your progress in life! It’s very easy to get sucked into: “Work laborious to generate profits to spend it on issues we don’t have to impress individuals we don’t even like” Life success isn’t measured within the measurement of our home, or worth of our automobile, or the quantity in our checking account.

Bringing all of it collectively:

With regards to private growth or well being enchancment, it helps to ask: “What am I optimizing for, and does that truly assist me get the end result I actually need?”

We are able to then resolve if we’re even enjoying with the proper scorecard and conserving our concentrate on the proper metric.

I’d love to listen to from you: what’s a metric you USED to prioritize, however now not observe? And what’s the essential metric that you simply’re selecting to prioritize today?

Hit reply on this and let me know!


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