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Chapter 33. Quality by Increments > Measurement and Control

Measurement and Control

Nearly everyone has heard the dictum that you can't control what you can't measure (DeMarco 1982). This is often a prelude to a hard sell on starting a software metrics or statistical quality control program. Formal measures have many advantages, but a moment's reflection will tell you that there are many important things in life that parents, teachers, managers, and others control but that they do not measure. Many of these probably cannot be measured. When it comes to people, the essential thing is attention, not measurement; what matters is what you monitor. Any effective parent knows that if you pay attention to tantrums you get more tantrums. Systems in general, and human systems in particular, have the peculiar property that the very act of observation changes what is being observed. This is the basis of the well-established Hawthorne effect: simply making a group the object of study, paying more attention to what they are doing, can lead to improved performance.

  • Pay attention.


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