Just posted on the LinkedIn Human Performance Discussion on the art and science of measurement

Great question and discussion!

Business performance measurement and management ought to be a blend of art and science akin to music–the most intuitive and absorbing of the arts and simultaneously reliant on some of the most high tech precision instrumentation available.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the numbers used in HR and marketing are not scientific. Despite the fact that highly scientific  instruments for intangibles measurement have been available for decades, this is generally true in two ways. First, measures of some qualitative substance that really adds up the way numbers do have to be read off a calibrated instrument. Most surveys and assessments used in business are not calibrated. Second, once instruments measuring a particular thing are calibrated, to be fully scientific they all have to be linked together in a metric system so that everyone everywhere thinks and acts together in a common language.

The advantages of taking the trouble to calibrate and link instruments are numerous. The history of industry is the history of the ways we have capitalized on standardized technologies. A whole new economy is implied by our capacity to vastly improve the measurement and management of human, social, and natural capital.

The research on the integration of qualitative substance and quantitative precision in meaningful measurement is extensive. My most recent publication appeared in the November 2009 issue of Measurement (Elsevier): doi:10.1016/j.measurement.2009.03.014.

For more information, see some of my published papers and the references cited in them at http://www.livingcapitalmetrics.com/researchpapers.html.

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LivingCapitalMetrics Blog by William P. Fisher, Jr., Ph.D. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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