Focus on playing well

Staring at the scoreboard isn’t going change the score. Better to focus on playing well.

This statement seems obvious, but most organizations track performance metrics at the expense of . When our youngest son was being cared for in hospital, three different people follow-up with us when one of his medication doses was missed. Medication errors like these are tracked closely in hospitals. However we were consistently surprised at the lack of concern given to many other shortfalls in the care provided.

Goodheart’s Law and Campbell’s Law highlight the problems that can come with tracking metrics if it’s not carefully done.

Goodheart’s Law (as stated by Marilyn Strathern):

When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure. [1]

Campbell’s Law:

The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor. [2]

In Ontario, the compensation of hospital leadership is linked to a number of quality performance metrics (one of them is medication safety) [3].

  1. Strathern, Marilyn. “Improving Ratings” 1997. Audit in the British University System European Review 5: 305–321.


Systems are more important than goals

I think I can boil down the goal of this blog to this quote:

We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.

It’s attributed to a Greek philosopher named Archilochus. But it’s been interpreted in different ways. Recently, I heard it stated:

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

I’ve come to believe that developing a system that allows me to inch forward is more important than setting a lofty goal of where I see myself in 5 years. Staring at the scoreboard isn’t going to change it.

This site is focuses on what I’ve learned about developing and maintaining systems that can help us be healthier and happier.