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Measure It, Fix It

Edited: September 18, 2020 (v0.0.6)

It’s Akin’s 1st law [1].

Engineering is done with numbers. Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

It’s a mechanism of Kaizen.

Kaizen is a concept referring to business activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers.

David Henke was also very well known for the saying.

What gets measured gets fixed.

Although not useful for everything, I think this is a great strategy to lead with. Consider that when one measures something, they define a concrete vernacular for everyone to use.

Beware McNamara Fallacy.

The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.
— Daniel Yankelovich, “Corporate Priorities: A continuing study of the new demands on business” (1972).

I.e., beware making a decision based solely on quantitative observations (or metrics) and ignoring all others.

Beware Goodhart’s Law.

When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

And following on to this, the message from Muller in [2], which warns, we’ve gone from measuring performance to fixating on measuring itself. The result is a tyranny of metrics that threatens the quality of our lives and most important institutions.

Seek balance.


  1. [1]J. Muller, The Tyranny of Metrics. 2018 [Online]. Available at: https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691174952/the-tyranny-of-metrics. [Accessed: 2020-9AD]
  2. [2]Akin, “Akin’s Laws.” [Online]. Available at: https://spacecraft.ssl.umd.edu/akins_laws.html. [Accessed: 11-Oct-2019]