Measurable things

In so many organisational settings we seek to turn human beings into measurable things, assessed for productivity, efficiency, and for ability to match a prescribed list of behaviours. 

Yes, I understand, we have to measure in organisations. The era we’re living in, in which economics is the narrative by which we account for the worth of just about everything, demands this of us. And there are solid reasons to track, with rigour, how things are going.

But most of what’s most important about human beings can’t be reduced to an objective measure, a behaviour chart, or a figure to put on your balance sheet.

If you treat people as resources, you call on them to act as if they are resources.

Resources don’t exhibit wholeheartedness, care for the people around them, or a capacity to discern and dedicate themselves to a noble pursuit that genuinely matters. And the resource narrative does much to reduce us to individualistic, self-serving shadows of ourselves, pursuing the measure rather than doing what’s of enduring value.

We’re going to have to do better than this if we want to create organisations that have people – and society – flourish. And we’re going to have to face up to our fear of all the things that could happen if the people around us were freed up to be fully, fiercely, and uncompromisingly alive.

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