“Some people swing to the extremes of either having no interest in the data or believing that the facts of measurement alone should drive our management. Either extreme can lead to false conclusions.

A large portion of what we manage can’t be measured… the problem comes when people think that data paints a full picture, leading them to ignore what they can’t see.

Here’s my approach: Measure what you can, evaluate what you measure, and appreciate that you cannot measure the vast majority of what you do.”

Source: Edwin Catmull (2014) Creativity Inc

If you were coaching a volleyball team, you could collect data on team performance, such as percentage of serves in/out, number of successful digs, sets and spikes per player, unforced and forced errors and so on.

These data points give a partial understanding of the team’s performance only. They need to be complemented by observation of things that cannot be measured, such as team dynamics, on-court communication, effectiveness of nominal leaders, and so on.

We need to be careful not to rely on the extremes: obsessive measurement of data on one hand, and no interest in data on the other. We should measure what we can (and evaluate it), but also recognize the majority of the truth we seek consists of things that cannot be measured.