Hasnain says:

This was a super long read that made me both think and nod along a lot as I read it. The author gives a great overview of the rise of metrics-driven “accountability” culture, some of the claimed benefits, and a lot of the observed downsides. I had heard of some these examples in the abstract for a while but seeing them laid out in detail, across areas ranging from education to policing to medicine, was something else.

The writing got a bit dry in the philosophical critiques section - I started skimming there till the conclusion bits - but it’s worth a read.

“One effect of that depletion is to motivate those with greater initiative and enterprise to move out of mainstream, large-scale organizations where the culture of accountable performance prevails. Teachers move out of public schools to private and charter schools. Engineers move out of large corporations to boutique firms. Enterprising government employees become contractors and consultants. There is a healthy element in this. But surely the large-scale organizations of our society are the poorer for driving out those most likely to innovate and initiate. The more that work becomes a matter of filling out forms and filling in boxes by which performance is to be measured and rewarded, the more it will repel those who know how to actually think.

Economists who specialize in measuring economic productivity report that in recent years (2007–12) the only increase in total factor productivity in the American economy was in the IT-producing industries. A question worth asking is to what extent the culture of accountability—with its staggering costs in employee time, morale, and initiative—has itself contributed to economic stagnation?”

Posted on 2022-08-04T02:22:49+0000