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New Insight on Measuring What Matters

Even for those of us involved in the Gross National Happiness movement, it can sometimes be challenging to get excited about the phrase, “measuring what matters.” It seems so dry, so lacking in passion — yet it is critically important to our personal and collective well-being.  We simply must see beyond the data to understand what the numbers truly represent in order to move away from the tyranny of a GDP system which is badly skewing our decisions, and negatively impacting our happiness.

In a recent article published on the Daily Good site, Somik Raha asks, “What Does Brushing Twice a Day Have to Do with Profits and Impact?” Raha, who holds a PhD in Decision Analysis from Stanford University and is Head of Product at SmartOrg, Inc., answers that question and many more with a beautiful and compelling essay on measurements, and the importance of making the right choices.

Here’s a taste of this insightful article:

“Do you brush twice a day? You don’t have to answer that. :) I hope that you do.

The count of the number of times you have brushed is very helpful in getting you to brush in the morning and night. However, that count is NOT EQUAL TO dental health, which is what you are truly after. In fact, your dental health cannot be counted! Sure, you can count the number of cavities, but if two people had the same number of cavities, you wouldn’t be able to say much about relative dental health. You’d have to go deeper, perhaps do X-rays. But wait. If all you wanted was to get to dental health, then there is probably nothing as simple as the count of the number of times we’ve brushed to get us there through the act of brushing. This leads us to a profound realization.

What truly counts is not countable. What is countable does not truly count.

Try it with anything that you count. You will find, like I did, that this statement shockingly holds true. So should we end our engagement with metrics? Not at all. Metrics are black-and-white constructs that drive action.” 

The article is on the longish side — but very readable, and well worth the read. Check it out here.

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