Friday, 4 June 2010

Measure what?

Last month the Washington Post ran a story about an employee in Alexandria, VA having to work so much harder (in effect doing the work of two men) due to the recession forcing companies to opt for 'greater productivity'.

This confusion of 'productivity' and 'production' is understandable ... since it reflects the difficulties of measuring productivity in appropriate ways.  If this company has indeed made workers work longer hours - for the same money - then productivity ... measured as output per dollar ... has gone up, but productivity ... measured as output per person hour ... has not.

So, we need to be careful about making decisions or judgements on productivity figures without understanding the basis of calculation (and the underlying 'truth').

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