Meta-Measurement

Oct 7th, 2002 by Tony in QSM2

When an organization is out of control – when it is in a quality crisis – the measurement system is one of the first things to break down. Unfortunately, this deprives the people in the organization of the very information they need to figure out what’s happening; they don’t know how many problems they’re experiencing, let along the specific nature of the problem.

This could make the failure hard to detect if there weren’t meta measurement: the measurement of the measurement system. The fact that we have models like the Satir Interaction Model indicates that we can observe ourselves measuring, and measure how well we’re doing.

When we do understand the concept of meta-measurement, we can use the very lack of awareness of people in the organization as the surest way to observe a control system failure. During a quality crisis, people don’t know what’s really happening to them, although they’ll usually agree they are overloaded. If asked what they are doing with all their time, however, they are unable to give an accurate accounting.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 2, Chapter 12

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