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Four quotes on metrics and three pithy comments on each

I like numbers; I like observations about numbers; so I like these quotes and the ideas they stimulated. Let’s hope you like my aphoristic style.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Albert Einstein

(1) More value generated by a law departments results from unmeasurable decisions than in countable actions.
(2) Benchmarks collected without decisions taken or improvements undertaken are worthless.
(3) Until you count, you don’t know what’s worth counting (See my post of Dec. 26, 2010: Robert McNamara — “To argue that some phenomena transcend precise measurement – which is true enough – is no excuse for neglecting the arduous task of carefully analyzing what can be measured.”).

“There is divinity in odd numbers.” William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, V.I.3

(1) Worship exceptions much more than routine figures.
(2) With metrics, the devil is in the details.
(3) Pray for honest numbers as only they reach the heaven of truth.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Attributed by Mark Twain to Benjamin Disraeli but never proven

(1) Realize all figures mislead; yet leaders miss reliable figures (See my post of April 14, 2011: power of metrics for rhetoric, analysis and communication.).
(2) If you don’t like the metrics, attack the methodology; if you don’t like the method, attack the conclusion; if not the conclusion, the analyst.
(3) Be driven to find drivers and correlations.

“The three Cs – counting, classifying, cataloguing – were central to the Baconian program,” Joel Mokyr, The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850 (Yale Univ. 2009) at 43.

(1) To bring home the bacon of matter management systems, use it to track, categorize, and report. (2) Insight starts with noticing that something is different from something else and thereafter keeping tallies.(3) Empirical research and conclusions, the breakthrough of Sir Francis, should guide law department managers.

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