Productivity, usability, and blind spots

Subject: Productivity, usability, and blind spots
From: SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 08:35:53 EDT

Now that I can actively participate in this thread...

Connie Giordano <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM> wrote:

>> I don't think anybody disagreed in principle with the idea of productivity
>> metrics, just with the notion that artificially imposed constructs such as
>> page counts or character counts can fully measure performance or
>> productivity.

Pardon me, but whether people here realize it or not, disagreeing on
principle with the very concept of productivity metrics is *exactly* what
they did! The quality expert Philip Crosby puts it this way: At every
business he has ever consulted with, management always says the same thing at
first--'Quality is very important, and I demand it of everyone I deal with.
But, of course, *our* business is unique, and you can't define or measure
quality for us.' Hah! Crosby has learned that his first task is education 8^)

We instinctively rebel against the notion of being measured, while at the
same time expecting everyone around us to measure up. How much is Bill Gates
worth? Where does the Dow Jones stand? How many CDs did Britney Spears sell?
How many home runs did Mark McGwire hit two years ago? We're only human 8^)

Connie went on to say:

>> I agree that usability should be the foundation of productivity metrics...

Well... Usability and productivity are independent variables. Usability is a
quality of a product, while productivity is a quality of the process by which
a product is manufactured. Whether you like your car or not is independent of
how long it takes the factory to make one. Productivity is not the same as
quality. But a business wants to follow one with the other; if they produce
something of quality, they want to produce it in quantity.

Elna Tymes <etymes -at- lts -dot- com> made the excellent point that productivity
involves work produced over time, and that we as writers can't control the
time element (because of delayed input or schedule slips, for example). For
me, that probably puts the final nail in the coffin of productivity as an
individual metric. But productivity remains a necessary metric for groups. It
is better thought of as a system metric--it measures the performance of a
system, not an individual.

-- Steve

Steven Jong, Documentation Team Manager ("Typo? What tpyo?")
Lightbridge, Inc., 67 South Bedford St., Burlington, MA 01803 USA
mailto:jong -at- lightbridge -dot- com -dot- nospam 781.359.4902 [voice]
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