How much time you spend every week just to rethink about targets in your life? If I put this in a form of survey, then numbers will come out. However, I’m not speaking about how to read the numbers generated by surveys. You all can easily learn how to do that. I’m suggesting to rethink the deeper question lies within that question: Is our targets really represent what we need to achieve?
When I was about to post this, I attended an international seminar around internationalization and branding strategy for universities. In one of the panel session, a panelist present his research on how international ratings are made by rating agencies or associations. He showed how definition and calculation of factors contributing to the final rating score can define public perception. In an example he gave, a small alteration on the definition and rating calculation resulted in ultimately different result to a university. Perhaps you now will say: “What is so new with that? Of course if you change the equation, the result will be different!”
Yes, that is absolutely right! But how often we spend time to examine how ratings, calculations and other measurements or metrics in our life were made? I argue, more often we believe the result without questioning how that result was generated. Look at IQ, ratings and popular indexes. Most people believe those popular indicators, but do they now how they were calculated? How would you know that they are relevant and suffice to indicates your circumstances? How many decisions and judgment we made based on such indicators we rarely think about?
All kind of metrics or measurements are indicators. What do indicators do? Well, they indicate! They represent a certain quality or quantity in operational figures, mostly in form of numbers. Thus, there are chances that certain indicators that looks appealing and convincing for us may represent something that actually irrelevant to us.
Business target is a good example for it. In banking, numbers of saving or lending can’t easily be taken as productivity indicators. In business, a luxurious office building may not mean the business is credible and doing well. Number of loans a business or person has represents credibility, but also indicates future liabilities. Hence, understanding which indicator we should consider to measure ourselves are eminent.
In personal context, indicators such as big house, multiple cars or various antiques are commonly used as indicators of wellness (…or to be precise….wealthy!). But facts are showing that having all those do not necessarily makes people feel well. Sometimes, small house with enough things bring more happiness than having too much. In that respect, I think there are a lot of people attached to irrelevant indicators of happiness. In educational system, we have so many achievement indexes and scores. Do they always relevant and accurately representing the learning quality and competence we are seeking? In economic, does consumption rates solely describing the actual economic pulse?
It is easy to be lost in our own indicators. Indicators are means in figuring what we want. They can be inaccurate in methodological perspective, and the can be irrelevant in substantial perspective. I’m not saying all kinds of indicators are wrong. I’m just inviting all of us to be critical on indicators we have establish in measuring what we want.
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