Measurement Follies

Please have a look at my latest post on tompeters.com, The Follies of Marketing Measurement.” There are already a number of thoughtful comments. (Which usually happens at tompeters.com … great community)

The post focuses on the myopia inherent when an executive says, “If you can’t measure it, it’s not worth doing.”  What BS.  There are many things that can’t be measured directly that are worth doing.

Here’s a paragraph I left out of the tompeters.com version of the post … it was a long post, and I thought this idea was more appropriate on my site:

As usual, the marketing world is somewhere between 150 and 200 years behind other areas of intellectual thought.  The 19th century transcendentalist movement, so closely aligned with thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, was a direct reaction against materialist thinking.  By “materialism” I don’t mean Valley Girl let’s-buy-Prada materialism. I refer to the idea that all of our knowledge must come from what we experience in the material world.  Transcendentalism recognized that our minds have the ability to go beyond, or transcend, the realm of our direct experience, and that it is possible for a thinking person to determine things that fall beyond the reach of the five senses.

Leaving out that paragraph forced me to edit the last lines.  Here are the originals:

Don’t let your boss get away with being a myopic materialist.  Transcend the mundane measures, and create real ROI.

The late 20th century brought with it a surge in materialist thinking … we became so arrogant of our ability to understand how the world works, this time trusting not only our five senses but the technological tools that we developed to aid those senses.  Maybe one of the good things that will come from this economic meltdown, not predicted by the materialist financial analysts and their models, will be less blind trust in empiricism, and more trust in the human mind’s ability to infer.  (Interestingly, so many of the stories I’ve heard of people who predicted this economic mayhem are not about spreadsheet-prognoses, but about people “transcending” the hard data and using their intuition to sense trouble.)

Use the numbers. Dissect them.  Disaggregate them. Look at them from many angles. Understand them.  And then, look past the numbers and make the right decision.

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