Can Measures Change the World?

Christopher Nelson, Anita Chandra & Carolyn Miller in Stanford Social Innovation Review: “Our ability to track and report all sorts of things is growing by the day, resulting in a proliferation of measures—the percentage of children attending preschool, the cost of housing, access to mental health services, to name just a few. It’s time that organizations begin to focus just as much effort on understanding how those measures can be more effectively used to change complex social systems….

It is often said that “what gets measured gets done.” This common phrase implicitly frames measurement not just as a tool for capturing information about systems but also as an intervention itself. This belief in the transformative power of measurement may partially explain the huge sums of money spent each year by governmental, nongovernmental, and private sector organizations in developing, maintaining, and publicizing measures….(More)”