Monday, September 24, 2012

Aiming at Goal

                Over the past month or so, assessment and measurement has been receiving a great deal of attention. Loads of blog posts and tweets and conferences. Rightly so, I’d say, for these are very important topics—ones that we should reconsider constantly. I wrote a post that included some thoughts on the topic: “Less I, More R.”
                This past Saturday I was watching an English soccer match between Everton and Swansea. Everton was dominating the match, but the score remained nil-nil. One announcer brought up what has become a popular statistic the past few years by mentioning what a large percentage of possession Everton had. The other announcer, a former player, argued, “That’s technology driving that stat, that is. And it doesn’t matter. Only stat that matters is goals.”
                While I am not that old school, his comments started me thinking. First, how much has technology driven what is measured? In other words, how often do we measure something because we discovered that we could, and then convinced ourselves that somehow it may be meaningful? I suspect the answer to that question varies wildly depending on the respondent. Also, certainly there are things we wanted to measure and only now can do so efficiently.  I like to look at data and see what story emerges. But I have a second question. In this era of big data, with so much of it available, have we focused on the ones that really matter—the goals?
                I guess before we can do that, we need to keep clarifying and building consensus about the goals. Not as easy as sticking the ball in the back of the net.

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